Madison County Board Chairman candidate Robert Daiber (D- Marine) and several Democratic county board members called for the immediate dismissal of top officials in County Board Chairman Kurt Prenzler’s administration and the hiring of an outside, professional firm to take over the county’s information technology system.
Daiber said, “A criminal investigation by six law enforcement agencies has made it clear how extensive corruption and abuses of power are in the Prenzler administration. Madison County must act now to restore public trust by immediately dismissing the Prenzler aides who have committed these truly shocking actions.”
Affidavits from the investigation made public last week provide conclusive evidence that top aides to Kurt Prenzler took the following actions.
- They attempted a pay-for-play scheme by offering a county job to a congressional staff person in exchange for the appointment to a U.S. attorney position of their political accomplice Don Weber.
- They created a scheme to hack into and spy on e-mails of the Madison County judiciary and the offices of elected county officials (neither of which are under the jurisdiction of the County Chairman or County Board) for political purposes.
- In doing so, they compromised victim information, released sensitive and legally privileged information regarding ongoing cases and reviewed the e-mails of judges in conflict with eavesdropping on judges, prosecutors and law enforcement officials statutes.
- They gave access to a non-employee to conduct searches of county e-mails for campaign purposes and breached the security of the county’s network and put personal data at risk by using personal computers to access and search county e-mails.
“The abuses of power by Kurt Prenzler ‘s administration are mind-boggling in their scope – reminiscent of the actions taken by the Nixon administration that led to the Watergate scandal and the resignation of the president. It is clear that County Administrator Doug Hulme, Information Technology Director Rob Dorman and Coronavirus ‘czar’ Steve Adler must immediately be removed from office and the way the county manages data security must be revamped.”
County Board Members Mike Parkinson (D-Granite City) and Chris Hankins (D-Pontoon Beach) called for the county to establish stronger data security protocols at a minimum and evaluate the professionalization of the county information technology system by hiring an outside firm to manage it.
Parkinson said, “In response to the recent unethical actions by Madison County officials under the appointment and control of Kurt Prenzler, there is a clear need for serious oversight protections to make certain that this public corruption ends and that the personal data of county employees and the general public are never again put at risk. When the IT department gave both employees and non-employees the ability to read e-mails, they opened the door to access social security numbers and confidential health and legal information that must be protected by law.”
Parkinson and Hankins laid out a plan to strengthen county cybersecurity.
- Remove the power of the IT Department to access e-mails.
- Assign a compliance officer from each department to manage FOIA requests and ensure the protection of confidential information.
- Only use software that can provide an audit trail of every search or request of the county’s network and provide a report on all such activities on a monthly basis to the county board.
- Require bids for all IT work in excess of $5,000 and require that all multi-year contracts require two-thirds consent of the county board.
- Hire a security consultant to review the system and install firewalls to strictly limit access to county e-mails and seal off those requiring a higher level of confidentiality.
Hankins said, “I am deeply concerned about the access both county employees and non-employees received to confidential and legally protected data and whether their actions to breach basic security protocols have opened up our network to other cyber criminals. We all have seen the damage caused to people when their personal data was stolen by cybercriminals who breached the firewalls of Target, Sony, Equifax, Marriott and so many more companies. We need to act quickly to protect the citizens of Madison County and not allow Kurt Prenzler and his aides to sweep this under the rug.”