In an appearance on MSNBC in July 2017, Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes expressed her vehement opposition to giving voter data to President Donald Trump’s voter fraud commission, which had requested it from election officials in all 50 states. The privacy risks were simply too high, she said.
“There is not enough bourbon here in Kentucky to make this request seem sensible,” Grimes said. “Not on my watch are we going to be releasing sensitive information that relates to the privacy of individuals.”
But beginning months before she made that statement, Grimes’ own staff had been looking up hundreds of voters in the very same registration system. One of her former staffers first revealed the practice last summer but provided little detail.
Now, an investigation by ProPublica and the Lexington Herald-Leader shows that the searches were extensive and targeted prominent state politicians, including gubernatorial candidate Rocky Adkins, who could have been Grimes’ opponent in the Democratic primary. Grimes, who had been considering a bid, announced this week that she has decided not to run for the governorship….
Grimes’ staff made questionable use of its unprecedented access to the voter registration system, or VRS. They looked up applicants for non-political positions with the seeming purpose of discovering their party affiliation. State law prohibits inquiring as to whether such applicants are Republicans or Democrats.
Her staff searched for hundreds of voters, mostly state employees outside the secretary of state’s office, for no discernible reason. Documents show they looked up current and former employees, a federal judge, the Kentucky education commissioner and every member of the Kentucky Board of Education.
They even searched for members of the ethics commission who are investigating Grimes herself.