LA-Sen & MN-Sen: Repercussions

If you do something stupid, malicious, duplicitous or self-concerned that happens to also break a law, there will be repercussions, as Hookerlover David Vitter and his Republican former colleague Norm Coleman are finding out.First, in Louisiana, you’ve probably heard about Hookerlover’s airport scuffle where he showed up late for his flight, yelled at airline staff, pulled a “Do you know who I am?!” out of his backside, set off an alarm barging through a closed security door, and then ran off.  Well, it turns out that Vitter’s tantrum may have violated TSA security policyand will lead to an investigation:

The Transportation Security Administration is examining Sen. David Vitter’s much-reported decision to open the closed gateway door to his plane — even though he was warned against it by an airline worker.”We will be reviewing the alleged incident,” Lauren Gaches, a TSA spokeswoman, told On Call this evening. …

Such incidents are evaluated on a case-by-case basis, and officials would not speculate about general fines or punishments imposed for attempting to enter a jetway already closed to the public.

The TSA Enforcement Sanction Guidance Policy, which may or may not apply in this case, specifies that a $2,500-$6,000 fine could be instituted for “tampering or interfering with, compromising, modifying, attempting to circumvent, or causing a person to tamper or interfere with, compromise, modify or attempt to circumvent any security system, measure, or procedure.” A $1,000 to $3,000 fine could be levied for “entering or being present within a secured area, AOA (Airport Operations Area), SIDA (Security Identification Display Area), or sterile area without complying with the systems measures or procedures being applied to control access to, or presence or movement in, such areas.”

What if a middle-aged man with no criminal record whatsoever, but happened to have light brown skin and a somewhat long beard and be wearing a turban, started shouting at an airline employee and tried to barge through a security door, setting off an alarm?  Would there be an inquiry?  Fortunately, the rules don’t apply to David Vitter, be it when he solicits a prostitute, when he is a party to damaging public property, or when he violates security policy at an airport.

Here is Vitter’s official response on the matter:

“After being delayed on the Senate floor ensuring a vote on my anti-pay-raise amendment and in a rush to make my flight home for town hall meetings the next day, I accidentally went through a wrong door at the gate. I did have a conversation with an airline employee, but it was certainly not like this silly gossip column made it out to be.”

Oops, he accidently went through a wrong door.  Really?  Does Vitter think we are complete morons?  This isn’t looking for the bathroom at a friend’s new house.  This is an airport – people don’t “accidently” go through “wrong doors.”  If the TSA doesn’t appropriately fine Vitter for his blatant violation of airport security policy, it will both make a mockery of airport security and set a precedent for perfectly acceptable airport rage.

Second, in Minnesota, you’ve probably heard about Republican Norm Coleman’s camp coughing up the credit card information of its donors.  Well, it turns out that the Coleman camp has known about the security breach for over a month and did nothing to protect their donors, which looks like a violation of Minnesota law:

Following our earlier email over the Coleman leak, we have discovered that all on-line Coleman contributors had their full credit card details released onto the Internet on 28 of Jan, 2009 by Coleman’s staff.Senator Coleman was made aware of this yet elected not to inform supporters in violation of Minnesota Statute 325E.61

A Minnesotan election law expert offers his thoughts:

Professor David Schultz, who teaches election law at Hamline University, tells TPM via e-mail that the Coleman campaign could be in serious legal trouble, assuming this was the product of their own negligence:

His campaign potentially violated state law by not promptly notifying card holders of the disclosure of their card info. Assume the campaign did suffer a breach in security, his campaign faces fines under state law and it is possible a card holder could sue the campaign for any damages. It would be hard for the donors to sue Coleman personally and prevail.

It is crystal clear that the breach was not a “hack” but rather the result of incompetence on the part of Coleman’s web team.  Nevertheless,Norm Coleman himself is scare-mongering on the topic while his stooges conjure up imaginary, politically-motivated computer hackers.  One thing is clear: Norm Coleman’s donors are pissed:

Norm Coleman donors responded to news of an apparent campaign data breach with “extreme anger,” worry about their credit card accounts, and suspicion of the Al Franken campaign.All of the people from the donor list contacted by the Minnesota Independent acknowledged having contributed to Coleman. Most had not heard about the breach until contacted by MnIndy. A few said they had heard by email from or the Coleman campaign. One stated that he feared a recent unauthorized withdrawal from his bank account was related to the breach. …

Here is a sample of the more than 60 reactions the Minnesota Independent has received so far from campaign contributors …

“No – to my great frustration – I had not heard about the leak nor had anyone notified me of the leak. … Shockingly, your email is the first I’ve heard of this. So should I feel (RELATIVELY) reassured that someone can’t use my credit card fraudulently? … Thanks for bringing this to my attention – seems the Coleman Campaign should have done so if they knew about it as the article suggests.”

“This is crazy. … This is amazing. I’ve called the [Coleman] office twice in the past hour and it goes straight to voicemail. … If you want to characterize how I feel about it: extreme anger.”

“The first I heard of the leak was in an email this morning from Coleman’s campaign. Very perturbed to say the least that this was not brought to my attention earlier.”

Beyond these snippets of donors unhappy with the Coleman campaign for not informing them of a possible data breach earlier, a few responses blame Al Franken and – I kid you not – George Soros.  However, it is abundantly clear that, when the Coleman camp became aware that they had coughed their own confidential information in late January, they should have informed their donors – they were legally obligated to do so – and they chose not to do so, it appears, to avoiding creeping out previous donors that they wanted to tap again for recount funds.  Coleman and his crew withheld the truth from their own supporters so that they could exploit their supporters for more quick cash.  Unbelievable.

Hookerlover David Vitter was in a hurry and believed (and probably still believes) that the rules don’t apply to him.  I mean, do you know who he is?!  As a result, it appears he violated TSA security policy and should be accordingly punished.  Republican loser Norm Coleman could have protected his supporters and informed them back in late January about the Coleman camp’s own security incompetence.  Sure, it might have slowed the flow of much-needed campaign contributions for the recount, but it would have been the honest, honorable, and legally-required thing to do.  It appears, though, that Coleman chose to stab his own supporters in the collective back and keep them in the dark, leaving them vulnerable to credit card fraud and identity theft.

David Vitter and Norm Coleman (or Coleman’s campaign, anyway) appear to have broken the law, violated public standards, and violated their supporters’ and constituents’ trust.  They deserve to face repercussions for their actions.  We’ll see if they will.

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