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WIKILEAKS: “The Big Bad Database of Senator Norm Coleman”


Wikileaks has released detailed lists of the controversial Republican Senator Norm Coleman’s supporters and donors. Some 51,000 individuals are represented.

Although politically interesting in their own right, the lists, which are part of an enourmous 4.3Gb database leak from the Coleman campaign, provide proof to the rumors that sensitive information—including thousands of supporter’s credit card numbers—where put onto the Internet on January 28 as a result of sloppy handling by the campaign.

The database has been passed around privately since that time.

Senator Coleman collected detailed information on every supporter and website visitor and retained unencrypted credit card information from donors, including their security codes. Although made aware of the leak in January, Senator Coleman kept the breach secret, failing to inform contributors, in violation of Minnesota Statute 325E.61.

The statute states that organizations that become aware of this such a disclosure of sensitive unencrypted personal information must notify the individuals concerned “in the most expedient time possible and without unreasonable delay” and “immediately following discovery.”

Yesterday Wikileaks sent two notifications to Coleman’s supporters as a courtesy prior to a projected analysis of the data later this week.

Today Senator Coleman’s Campaign manager Cullen Sheehan tried to spin the issue, claiming somewhat fantastically that no data had been downloaded, that the culprits would be caught and that all donors should cancel their credit cards. No apology was made for the initial leak or its cover up.

In response Wikileaks has had to bring forward its public announcement. The open government group has released two files, a detailed list of 4,721 on-line donors with the last four digits of their credit cards as proof, and a list of some 51,641 supporters.

Wikileaks will release other material from the extensive Coleman database once those affected have time to be informed.


For a the latest overview prior to this PR and:

The initial whistleblower letter to Wikileaks stated:


The attached files comprise a snapshot of the website database of the Norm Coleman campaign as of January 28, 2009. The database was exposed by the incompetence of Coleman’s website personnel, making the information public for a period of time.

The fact that this database was improperly exposed by Norm Coleman’s own staff, can be verified here:

That said, I feel it is very important that the actual database be provided to a trusted media liaison, for several reasons:

A) The Coleman campaign’s effort to impugn the election processes in the State of Minnesota have gone beyond mere political rigor into partisan malfeasance of the sort that has plagued this country for the past eight years, to the benefit of nobody and the great detriment of the citizens of this State;

B) The Coleman campaign has illegally collected personal financial details of its donors, in the form of unencrypted credit card numbers, without reporting this as required in the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (under which citizens are entitled to such notification for each significant unit of data stored);

C) The Coleman campaign’s incompetence in managing said personal information has lead to the release of this information to the Internet at large, potentially exposing the donors to fraud, identity theft, financial harm and potential political persecution;

D) The citizens and donors have a right to know that their personal information was exposed;

E) Notificiation to users of such exposure of personal information is also required under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act: however the Coleman campaign has made no attempt to contact their supporters over the issue, despite being made aware of it, and despite the database floating around the Internet.

F) The failure of the Coleman campaign to faithfully disclose the above to the citizens of the State of Minnesota will result in further such indiscretions by its elected officials by fostering an atmosphere of impunity in matters of campaign finance and personal data privacy.

G) The public has a right to know.

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