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Ex-Kansas Gov. Colyer riled by disclosure of personal data

Jeff Colyer 2022 Kansas governor campaign
Posted at 11:21 AM, Jun 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-10 12:21:23-04

TOPEKA, Kan. — Former Republican Gov. Jeff Colyer says a Kansas county election office isn't doing enough to protect him after it accidentally disclosed his Social Security number to a political research firm this spring.

Colyer is running for governor in 2022, with Attorney General Derek Schmidt also seeking the GOP nomination. The winner will likely face incumbent Democratic Gov. Laura Kelly in the general election.

The Johnson County election office directed a researcher to shred documents containing the personal information of Colyer and his wife in April. But an attorney for Colyer told the office that the researcher's three-word email assurances weren't enough to confirm that personal information wasn't passed on. Colyer's attorneys wanted Johnson County to require a signed affidavit.

"If they will do it to a former governor, they can do it to any Kansan," Colyer said in an email to The Associated Press.

Colyer's campaign released documents about the breach, email exchanges between county officials and a law firm Colyer hired and the county declining to release all the records sought by the firm.

The election office received a request April 12 for voter records for Colyer and his wife from Peter Como, senior associate for Percipient Strategies. Como received electronic copies the same day.

The firm's website says it provides "political intelligence" and lists GOP candidates and groups as clients, but a Kansas connection was not clear. The company specifically asked for the Colyers' records but it wasn't immediately clear why or on whose behalf. Como didn't answer email and telephone messages.

Election Commissioner Fred Sherman notified Colyer by mail that his office discovered April 21 that it disclosed Social Security numbers "inadvertently." State law requires them to be redacted from records made public.

Cynthia Dunham, an attorney for the county, told Colyer's attorney, Lucinda Luetkemeyer, in a May 19 email that Como provided "clear confirmation" that the documents were destroyed and personal information wasn't passed on. Como sent identical email responses to county inquiries on April 30 and May 18: "Yes, I confirm."

Colyer was governor for a year in 2018 after former Republican Gov. Sam Brownback resigned to become the U.S. ambassador at large for religious freedom.