|A Wiki of Ice & Fire|
To our friends on the Potomac,
Press accounts suggest that Federal law enforcement authorities are in the midst of a "wide-ranging" investigation into City of Pittsburgh operations or into City dealings. We thank you for your efforts in pursuing public corruption as a high priority.
Before this round of investigations "winds down," I see it as my duty to forward to you a concern that has arisen among Pittsburgh's online community. This blogger reserves judgment on the theory's veracity and will claim no smoking gun, but finds it indeed suspicious.
It all started (as these things tend) with an anonymous alarm:
I relayed that concern to the Comet Thousand-Strong, and responses began arriving:
Six persons to my knowledge claim they have received this e-mail unsolicited and without provocation from Friends of Jack Wagner, all on the same date.
Some say they have never subscribed to any political candidates' email list, ever.
Each of them further alleges that they had in fact subscribed to one or more City of Pittsburgh e-services: either a Dept. of Public Safety newsletter promoted in 2010 and/or one or more officeholder's City newsletters. Additionally, some of them suspect the "Mayor's" 311 help line.
None of these respondents can recall -- and I personally cannot recall -- ever having received political candidate mass-emails out of the blue. Although the experience is commonplace for direct mail, and more rare but not unheard of via telephone, those I have spoken with simply do not have the experience of receiving surprise candidate e-mails.
I inquired to Wagner campaign spokesperson J.J. Abbott how they might have received these e-mail addresses. After "checking around" he "confirmed" that e-mail addresses were purchased from "national email list firms," selected by zip code; or else handed over from candidates' campaigns publicly endorsing Mr. Wagner. He denied that any could have originated from City records.
That provides a solid explanation for what seemed like the odd 7th-complainant out:
Coucilwoman Rudiak alone among our respondents received a different, later Friends of Jack Wagner e-mail than the others. Abbott was able to quickly confirm that Rudiak came to be on Wagner's list for having subscribed to Chelsa Wagner's campaign for Controller. Wagner is publicly supporting Wagner.
No similarly specific explanations were available from the Wagner campaign for the other six, aside from reference to "national e-mail list firms."
People for Peduto is also running what is by all accounts a modern and well-funded campaign, but no allegations have arisen about unsolicited People for Peduto e-mails. Again, to my knowledge, nobody yet claims to have received unsolicited campaign e-mails from any other candidate, ever.
Given the record of illegal and unethical actions and dismissive attitude of a City leadership which has forfeited accountability, and given its aggressive disposition towards this election and away from governing, I trust you understand our reasons for raising the specter of government resources being utilized to aid a political campaign. We are all confident you have the resources and interest to dispose of this concern.