The national data director for Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign has been fired after improperly accessing proprietary data from the Hillary Clinton campaign in a Democratic National Committee system, the New York Times reports.
The staffer was identified as Josh Uretsky by Bloomberg Politics.
The information that was improperly accessed included confidential voter information added to a Democratic party database by Clinton’s campaign, according to the Washington Post, which first reported the breach.
Here’s what you need to know about Uretsky and the allegations against the Sanders campaign:
1. The DNC Has Temporarily Blocked the Sanders Campaign From Viewing Any Voter Data
The Democratic National Committee has temporarily barred the Sanders campaign from accessing any of the voter data, the Washington Post reports.
According to the Post, the DNC said it will not restore the campaign’s access until it receives an explanation for why the data was accessed, and assurances that the Clinton data has been destroyed.
The DNC is in charge of maintaing a master voter list, which it rents to national and state campaigns. They can then add their own proprietary information obtained by field workers and volunteers, according to the Post.
“Firewalls are supposed to prevent campaigns from viewing data gathered by their rivals,” the Post writes.
The New York Times reports that the database includes information from voters nationwide and is used by campaigns to set strategy.
2. The Sanders Campaign & the DNC Blamed a Software Vendor for a Glitch That Allowed Access to the Data
The Sanders campaign said in a statement that the firewall was down because of a glitch in the system, which is run by a vendor for the DNC, NGP VAN. Campaign spokesman Michael Briggs said:
On more than one occasion, the vendor has dropped the firewall between the data of different Democratic campaigns. Our campaign months ago alerted the DNC to the fact that campaign data was being made available to other campaigns. At that time our campaign did not run to the media, relying instead on assurances from the vendor.
Unfortunately, yesterday, the vendor once again dropped the firewall between the campaigns for some data,After discussion with the DNC, it became clear that one of our staffers accessed some modeling data from another campaign. That behavior is unacceptable and that staffer was immediately fired.
“The DNC places a high priority on maintaining the security of our system and protecting the data on it,” said its communications director, Luis Miranda, in a statement. “We are working with our campaigns and the vendor to have full clarity on the extent of the breach, ensure that this isolated incident does not happen again, and to enable our campaigns to continue engaging voters on the issues that matter most to them and their families.”
3. Uretsky Was Hired By the Sanders Campaign in September
Uretsky, 39, was hired by the Sanders campaign in September, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He writes that his role is to provide “support administer VAN for campaign teams,” and to “provide data driven insight and strategy.”
While Uretsky was the only staffer fired, the New York Times reports that four user accounts from the Sanders campaign ran searches in the system while the firewall blocking access to Clinton’s data was down.
Uretsky, of Philadelphia, could not immediately be reached for comment.
4. He Has Been Involved in Politics for Several Years
Uretsky has been involved in Democratic politics for several years, his LinkedIn profile shows.
He worked as a staffer on Patrick Murphy’s Congressional campaign in 2006. From 2007 to 2008 he was a “grassroots leader for Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in Philadelphia,” serving as a co-chair of Philadelphia for Obama.
He has also worked on local Pennsylvania campaigns, and was the Pennsylvania Data and Targeting Manager for America Votes from 2011 until he was hired by the Sanders campaign.
“Prepared and presented data driven analysis of partisan political opportunities and needs using SQL, VAN, GIS and other tools. Determined key regions for electoral program and competitive districts,” he wrote of his role with America Votes. “Managed voter file access for partner organizations and their consultants including administration, security, training and technical assistance. Managed deputy staff.”
5. He Graduated from Cal-Berkeley & Has Also Worked as a Computer Programmer
Uretsky graduated from the University of California-Berkeley in 1998 with a degree in bioengineering, with concentrations in computer science and genetics.
In addition to his work in politics, he worked as a C++ programmer at Mystic Wave Productions, a company that designed software for teachers, from 1995 to 1997. He was also a programmer at InfoUse, another educational software company, from 1998 to 2000.
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