Down on the Range, we’re all for the Freedom of Information Act, because making requests for information often leads to those details public officials would rather you didn’t know. But this mess Republican Tyler Vogt created for himself after getting e-mail correspondence from Tucson City Council members Paul Cunningham, Shirley Scott, Steve Kozachik and others, as part of an Arizona Public Information request, isn’t making him too many friends during his run for city council against Ward 4 incumbent and Democrat Shirley Scott.
Because Vogt solicited campaign contributions using the e-mail addresses he compiled from the correspondence, the Pima County Democratic Party is accusing Vogt of breaking the law.
It also accuses him of violating the city charter, because those messages included city workers’ e-mail addresses and it’s a no-no to solicit city workers using their official addresses during work hours.
“First he announces his candidacy with a menacing e-mail, trying to extort Council member Shirley Scott out of the race. Next he wastes city employee time to work on his campaign, illegally hits them up for money and spams the rest of the list,” Pima County Democratic Party Chair Jeff Rogers stated in the press release.
Even Vogt’s fellow Republican Steve Kozachik is getting in on the complaints. Koz sent this e-mail to Vogt:
“When your campaign requested a list of our constituent e-mail addresses, I objected on the grounds of wanting to protect their privacy. I was told by the City Clerk and City Attorney that I could not withhold that information and therefore they turned over the list to your campaign.”
And by the way, the Koz want his Ward’s e-mails off Vogt's list, too:
“I continue to believe your having accessed those e-mail addresses constitutes an invasion of the privacy of the people now receiving your campaign material. I request that you identify those e-mail addresses secured from the Ward 6 list and delete them from your list serve.”
Vogt responded that an opt-out link was on his spam, but wasn’t working. Regarding the Koz’s opinion: “I will choose to let the individuals make the decision whether they wish to continue to receive e-mail from my campaign and I will respect thier decisions,” he wrote.
Other than a need to use spell-check, Vogt may also need to check in with the city attorney about bad spam.
City Councilman Paul Cunningham weighed in on the matter in his June newsletter:
FOR YOUR INFORMATION
Please be aware that a private citizen on behalf of his political campaign has requested via a Freedom of Information “…the email addresses from all the individual wards in the city to send out candidate information.” Personally I feel it is inappropriate, since these emails are used to provide updates on City business only. Unfortunately, our City Attorney has advised us that we are required to release the list. If you are disappointed in this, please call the requestor at 520-971-4481.
Maybe there are perks for political stupidity. Like Senator Al Melvin, Vogt now gets to claim a Facebook book page created in his honor. Melvin's page is called Oh Captain, My Captain — The Al Melvin Fan Club, while Vogt's new page is I've Been Spammed by Tyler Vogt!