New Politics in Ohio

State officials are investigating the actions of Obama supporter (giving the maximum donation legally possible) Helen Jones-Kelly, who used her authority as director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services to initiate a check on the child support status of “Joe the Plumber” after he rose to prominence for questioning Obama.

Ohio’s inspector general is investigating why a state agency director approved checking the state child-support computer system for information on “Joe the Plumber.”

Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed today that she OK’d the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher following the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

She said there were no political reasons for the check on the sudden presidential campaign fixture though the Support Enforcement Tracking System.

Amid questions from the media and others about “Joe the Plumber,” Jones-Kelley said she approved a check to determine if he was current on any ordered child-support payments.

Such information was not and cannot be publicly shared, she said. It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case. Reports state that he lives alone with a 13-year-old son.

“Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. “Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way.”

Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles confirmed today that he is investigating the incident to determine if “Joe”s” records were legally accessed by Job and Family Services employees.

The use of a state computer system to search for information on Wurzelbacher is the fourth uncovered by The Dispatch.

Meanwhile, a Toledo Police Department records clerk has been charged with gross misconduct for “allegedly making an improper inquiry into a state database in search of information pertaining” to JTP.  Meanwhile, Joe is also considering a lawsuit:

“Joe the Plumber” has contacted a lawyer but is uncertain whether he will sue over government workers rummaging through his records on state computer systems.

“When I first found out, I was pretty angry, and I still am,” Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher said today in Columbus during his first campaign appearance on behalf of Republican presidential nominee John McCain.

The Toledo-area man, who was elevated to fame after he challenged Democrat Barack Obama over his tax policies during a street-side chat, formally endorsed McCain at the Flag Lady’s Flag Store in the Beechwold neighborhood.

Authorities in Toledo and Cleveland confirmed today that workers accessed Wurzelbacher’s driving record and vehicle information through state computer systems in checks uncovered by The Dispatch.

“It bothers me greatly,” Wurzelbacher said as he joined former Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Portman and small-business owners on a bus tour to back McCain and attack Obama’s tax policies.

“I’d like to see justice done,” he said. “That’s just for other people who dare ask their elected officials a question. They shouldn’t have to go through the scrutiny that I’ve gone through.”

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