MINNEAPOLIS - Eighteen current and former Minnesota residents filed a federal lawsuit Thursday, alleging that dozens of public workers across the state violated their privacy by looking up their personal data.
The group filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Minnesota on Thursday against more than 50 counties, municipalities and multiple state officials.
A statement announcing the lawsuit says "government officials targeted citizens based on their political involvement." The citizens behind the lawsuit say their data was accessed more than 600 times.
Attorney Erick Kaardal sent out a news release naming a current state lawmaker, a Wabasha County Commissioner and someone who wrote a letter to the editor as among those who claim their privacy was violated. Attorneys allege that the data probes were politically motivated, with those accessing the records searching for information that included driving violations, expired license tabs or warrants for arrest.
"Government's abuse of the private personal data of citizens engaged in participation in their own government is stunning," said State Representative Steve Drazkowski in a written statement. "It is the role of government to carry out the law, not to violate the law. They even went after the private data of my wife and my daughter - why? These flagrant violations of law by the people we entrust with it, are an abusive exercise of power."
"These people violated my trust in government, my feeling of safety, and my family's security," added Wabasha County Commissioner Deb Roschen. "Why are they pouring over data about my daughter and my husband? Who is holding these people accountable?"
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