NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — A measure to block courts from granting subpoenas for identities of anonymous commenters on news websites has passed the Senate.
The proposal sponsored by Republican Sen. Brian Kelsey of Germantown was unanimously approved 32-0 on Wednesday. The companion bill was also scheduled to be heard Wednesday in the House Civil Justice Subcommittee.
Currently, a person who gathers information for publication or broadcast isn’t required by a court, a grand jury, the General Assembly or any administrative body to disclose information or the source of any information “procured for publication or broadcast.”
Kelsey’s proposal adds to the current law. It does not apply, however, in cases in which defamatory comments were made.
An anonymous individual or group is alleging that they have gained “all available 1040 tax forms” of GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney by accessing computers in the Franklin office of the professional services firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, reports the City Paper. An anonymous posting on a file sharing website states that PwC has been hacked. This same website has been used by hackers who have claimed to have infiltrated computers from companies like Apple in the past.
An excerpt from one message states:
“Romney’s 1040 tax returns were taken from the PWC office 8/25/2012 by gaining access to the third floor via a gentleman working on the 3rd floor of the building. Once on the 3rd floor, the team moved down the stairs to the 2nd floor and setup shop in an empty office room. During the night, suite 260 was entered, and all available 1040 tax forms for Romney were copied. A package was sent to the PWC on suite 260 with a flash drive containing a copy of the 1040 files, plus copies were sent to the Democratic office in the county and copies were sent to the GOP office in the county at the beginning of the week also containing flash drives with copies of Romney’s tax returns before 2010. A scanned signature image for Mitt Romney from the 1040 forms were scanned and included with the packages, taken from earlier 1040 tax forms gathered and stored on the flash drives.
The group will release all available files to the public on the 28 of September, 2012.”
Republican state Senate candidate Todd Gardenhire accused his primary opponent, Greg Vital, of anonymously mailing to voters a 15-year-old request from Gardenhire’s ex-wife, asking for a protective order against him, but not telling “the rest of the story” — that a judge dismissed the entire matter nine days later.
An excerpt from the rest of Chris Carroll’s story: “The other thing missing from this [letter] was a disclaimer,” Gardenhire said Tuesday. “The disclaimer should have read, ‘This letter was authorized by the Pinocchio for State Senate Campaign, Greg Vital, chairman.'”
Both men are running in Senate District 10’s Republican primary to replace Sen. Andy Berke, a Democrat who’s declined a re-election bid in order to run for mayor of Chattanooga.
Gardenhire launched the accusations at Vital during a dramatic lunchtime meeting of the Hamilton County Republican Women’s Club at county GOP headquarters in Chattanooga. While both candidates verbally sparred, Vital never addressed whether his campaign mailed the petition.
Pressed about the mailer after the meeting, Vital initially refused to answer questions.
“You’re badgering,” he told a reporter. “I got one in the mail, too. That’s all I’m saying.”
Moments later, he threw up his hands and said, “I have no idea” when asked directly whether he or his campaign had any involvement in sending the mailer.
Gardenhire’s “Pinocchio” accusation came a week after the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported occasions in which Vital’s websites or Vital himself said he was a college graduate despite his never graduating.
Last week, an unknown number of Hamilton County homes received a handwritten envelope containing a petition for an order of protection. There was no return address.
Written June 27, 1997, by Gardenhire’s ex-wife, Kathy Gardenhire, the petition says she and their young son were “afraid for our lives” after Gardenhire “started raging,” “losing control” and “[throwing] things as hard as he can.”
“He raves through the house threatening me bodily harm,” she wrote in the petition.
But court records show that, nine days later, Hamilton County Criminal Court Judge Rebecca Stern signed an order dismissing the petition, noting that Kathy Gardenhire “asked that this action be dismissed.”
“[The] Court has determined that both parties have come to an agreement and a dismissal is in the best interest of the parties,” the order reads.
That information wasn’t included in the mailer. The Gardenhires remained married until “irreconcilable differences” led to a divorce that was finalized in 2008, court records show.
An anonymous mailer targeting 20th Senate District candidate Steve Dickerson hits the Republican for — shock! — playing rock ‘n’ roll, Chas Sisk reports.. “Exposing Steve Dickerson,” a tri-fold mailer that comes complete with a stamp of Ronald Reagan stroking his chin and Barack Obama photoshopped into a doctor’s coat, has been going out in waves this month to select recipients.
The mailer promotes an anti-Dickerson website, www.NoDickerson.com. It lists some of his donors who, like Dickerson, are doctors. But the real expose comes inside, with the disclosure that Dickerson plays in a hard rock band,
Documentation is provided in the form of photographs of Dickerson sporting an earring and bandana and making the horned-finger rock-star gesture.
“Are his values conservative enough for YOU?” the mailer asks. “If not, please vote for one of the other candidates.”
The sender may have had one of Dickerson’s competitors in mind, but none is mentioned. A quick response code in a corner takes the recipient to the No Dickerson website, which contains info on his Republican opponents. No organization is identified.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled Thursday that police must corroborate anonymous tips before officers stop and frisk someone.
The unanimous court ruling came in a case involving a man who was convicted of being a felon in possession of a handgun and having a firearm while intoxicated.
The opinion overturned the ruling of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
The opinion said police had no grounds to stop and frisk Guy Alvin Williamson at a hotel because there was no indication, beyond the anonymous report, that a crime had been committed. As a result, the court said evidence against Williamson should have been suppressed.
Williamson was arrested after an anonymous report was made to Covington police in May 2009 of an “armed party” at a local motel.
The opinion protects everyone from illegal searches and seizures, said Parker Dixon, an assistant public defender in Tipton County, who represents Williamson.
Police only had a report of an armed person before drawing a gun on his client and two others — essentially seizing them — when they were at the motel, Dixon said.
The attorney said police would have to have more grounds to believe that a crime had been committed, other than just the report that someone was armed, because many people legally have the right to carry a gun.
“This case really protects someone’s rights to bear arms, otherwise that type of report could requires anyone to be subjected to a frisk,” Dixon said.
It also protects others from unreasonable searches and seizures, he said.
The opinion didn’t say police couldn’t act on anonymous tips, only that they have to have some reason to believe that a crime has been committed before stopping and frisking someone.
Georgiana Vines has more on a widely-denounced anonymous mailer that disparages Knoxville mayoral candidate Madeline Rogero and supporters. Among the denouncers is her opponent, Mark Padgett. The flier, written by “A Concerned Knoxville Republican,” is the third — and harshest — to appear in recent weeks. It calls Rogero “a left wing community organizer like her hero Barack Hussein Obama” and says her base of support “is a bunch of drug addicts and hippies.”
“She wants to proclaim Knoxville as a ‘sanctuary City’ so these Mexicans don’t have to worry about being arrested or deported for assaulting people like us or selling drugs in our schools,” the author said.
The flier said two Republicans, (Billy) Stokes and Chad Tindell, who support her, are “fat” lawyers. Stokes would be law director if she wins, the flier said. The flier said he “only got his law license back because of his illegal dealing.” (Stokes and Tindell say the claims are ridiculous.)
…Padgett said he talked with Rogero on Saturday about the flier. He said he thought they should join together to collect as many of them as possible and “turn them over to authorities to be fingerprinted and investigated as a potential hate crime.”
In her statement, Rogero said she appreciated Padgett’s quick denunciation of the flier and knew he would not want the vote of whoever wrote it.
“The only way to snuff the flame of this type of hate and ignorance is to cut off the oxygen. We have two weeks until Election Day and there is no reason to pause over this filth a moment more,” she said.
A second anonymous flier attacking Knoxville mayoral candidate Madeline Rogero has been distributed throughout the city and parts of Knox County and signed “Shade with The Shadow,” reports Georgiana Vines. Much of the flier is a repeat of one distributed before the Sept. 27 primary. Rogero and her opponent, Mark Padgett, face each other in the Nov. 8 runoff election.
…Chip Barry, Rogero’s campaign manager, said Rogero supporters have contacted the headquarters about the flier.
“They’ve received it and are irritated it’s in their newspaper boxes,” he said.
Laura Braden, Padgett’s communications director, said the campaign has had nothing to do with it.
“We don’t condone anonymous mailers. We want to run on issues,” she said.
She said Padgett’s staff has had its own “tangible” irritations — big Padgett signs being taken down.
“It costs time and money to replace them,” she said.
University of Tennessee political scientist Michael Fitzgerald said using anonymous fliers in election campaigns is the modern equivalent of “bushwhacking” in the old West — “and just as reprehensible.”
An anonymous, multi-colored flier — showing photographs of four candidates in the Sept. 27 city and state Senate primaries and labeled “The next generation of leadership” — is not a violation of any campaign law, Knox County Attorney General Randy Nichols says, so he plans to do “nothing” about it.
“We can’t find out it’s a violation,” he said Thursday.
Nichols was sent a copy of the flier early in the week by Cliff Rodgers, Knox County elections administrator, when it was brought to Rodgers’ attention that it was “an unusual combination there,” he said.
The photographs are of Becky Duncan Massey, one of three Republicans seeking the 6th District Senate seat; Mark Padgett, one of five candidates running for mayor in Knoxville’s nonpartisan races; George Wallace, one of four seeking Knoxville City Council At Large Seat A, and Marshall Stair, one of three seeking the council’s At Large Seat B.
Nichols said the flier does not “expressly urge the election of a candidate or the defeat of a particular measure” so it does not have to have the “paid for by” credit line.
The hacker group Anonymous is targeting Tennessee in retaliation for a new law prohibiting the posting of offensive pictures online, reports the Memphis Business Journal. So far, the group has released a file including hundreds of names and addresses obtained through the state’s website, TN.gov. None of the information appears to be sensitive.
Alexia Poe, communications director for Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam, said officials are aware of the attack but declined to provide further details “due to security issues.”
Anonymous rose to prominence through a serious of cyber-attacks on government and corporate websites. One such attack targeted PayPal in retaliation for the company’s termination of WikiLeaks’ donation account.
Anonyops.com — a website that reports news about Anonymous, its targets and the loose-knit group’s current operations — released a press release July 3 announcing the start of an initiative called Operation Tennessee, claiming the state’s new offensive-pictures law violates the First Amendment’s protection of free speech.
They also criticized a Tennessee law governing streaming online content.