While a tragic housefire turns into a murder-suicide and a possible scandal involving federal money and South Dakota’s Republican education establishment, folks at Dakota War College have been passive-aggressively chomping at the bit today to start hanging people with the old news of the Ashley Madison list.
Ashley Madison? The fake adultery website that separated a number of fools from their money, then got hacked and saw its user database leaked to the world? Yeah, I thought that story was dead, too. But I guess like other fads, South Dakota is always behind the coasts.
Ryan Gaddy, leader of South Dakotans Against Prohibition and sponsor of the ballot measure to decriminalize marijuana, today alleged on Facebook that Senator Phil Jensen (R-33/Rapid City) had “leaked the Ashley Madison list to SDAP ADMINS BY MISTAKE!”
If Senator Jensen was the leaker, he leaked much more than he intended. A copy of the list found its way to my inbox. It is an Excel spreadsheet with 13,918 lines showing 2,143 unique personal names, of which maybe a couple thousand may be the names of real South Dakotans, along with other personal information. A quick scan for possible names of blog interest finds one Democrat, two Republicans, a couple media types, and a state official.
But what am I really looking at? The spreadsheet has no headers explaining the data fields. I can find no metadata marking its origination from Ashley Madison/Avid Life Media or the “Impact Team” that leaked the Ashley Madison data. I can’t even verify that Senator Phil Jensen leaked this list (I’ve e-mailed him some questions, but gosh darn it, he hasn’t replied yet).
All I have is a list of South Dakota names, addresses, dates, and numbers. Granted, it’s a long list, and it would have taken some time to put together. But if Pat Powers and I are talking about the same list, I can’t substantiate that (1) this list came from Senator Phil Jensen, (2) this list is a subset of data from the Ashley Madison database, or (3—and this is the kicker) this list proves that any of the individuals named ever accessed AshleyMadison.com, let alone engaged in adultery… and let’s not play coy, list-leakers and list-seekers: if this list is what some say it is, the only reason to publish it is to allege adultery (that, and subject them to higher risk of identity theft).
Doing that to two thousand of my neighbors doesn’t feel like news. It feels like a roadmap to a libel lawsuit. That’s why this post ends here.