- Arielle Kass The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
A Milton city councilman who is running for re-election has been reprimanded by the city manager for using email addresses obtained as part of a veterans program to invite residents to political events.
Bill Lusk, who was first elected in 2006, said he sent invitations to a meet-and-greet to his entire email contact list, which included residents who corresponded with him about a program to erect memorials for veterans.
When Lusk started the program, it was deeply entwined with the city, said Steven Krokoff, Milton’s city manager. City officials would collect applications for the veterans’ markers, and share those applications with Lusk. In recent years, the veterans’ markers became a separate tax-exempt program, apart from the city, but the city continued to solicit participants.
Lusk said he has deleted the email addresses of those he had corresponded with about the markers from his email list. But for some residents, that was not enough. Tim Becker, a Milton resident, said during public comment during Monday’s city council meeting that he thought Lusk should withdraw from the contest.
“This is a serious issue,” Becker said. “This is a big problem for the city. …They have an obligation to protect personal information of citizens.”
According to the city, 267 people were affected,but Lusk said hasn’t received any complaints.
“People try to pick out anything” to win points during campaigns, he said.
In the letter to Lusk, Krokoff said, “The use of this citizen information, and specifically the private email addresses, for political purposes was unauthorized.” The letter also said that Lusk was prohibited from using the email addresses for any reason.
Krokoff said Milton would be reviewing its relationship not just with the veterans’ marker program, but with all third parties it worked with.
“We need to shore up our processes,” he said of the city’s collection of information for entities outside city government. “We didn’t explicitly state that information is being shared and for what purpose. Going forward, we need to do a better job of that. We also need to notify the third party that they can only use the information for its intended purpose.”
Krokoff said all residents whose contact through the program landed them on Lusk’s email list had been contacted.
“I think it was oversight on my part that I used that,” Lusk said. “I purged all those emails.”