I honestly don’t know where to begin this post. Bear with me, this is going to be another long-winded write-up, but I have my reasons for going into so much detail.

This past Saturday I wrote about the e-mail spam I received from the Maria Sheffield campaign at e-mail addresses which were subscribed to the John Oxendine campaign e-mail list. At the time I wrote that post, I honestly believed that the Oxendine campaign shared their email list with the Sheffield campaign. Tonight, I am more sure of that fact than ever.

Before I begin writing about today’s events and get to my reasons for believing they did indeed share the e-mail list, let me repeat something and make it very clear. Two of my e-mail addresses are on John Oxendine’s email list. I have never used either one of these e-mail addresses for any other political campaign. The first one is the address I receive most of my non-political e-mail correspondence at, and the second one is one of my business e-mail addresses that I don’t normally use for anything “non-business”. I received two e-mails from the Maria Sheffield campaign, one at each of the e-mail addresses that are on no other political candidate’s mailing list. I have a completely separate e-mail address I receive all my other political related, and political party, e-mails on. I just wanted to make that clear (again) before I begin.

Earlier today I had quite an e-mail exchange with Tim Echols, John Oxendine’s campaign manager. It all started early this morning (around 3:00 am) when I decided that I would pursue an answer to this “mystery” because, to tell the truth, I am still quite angry that my addresses were sold/shared/stolen/hacked with or by someone else. Here is the text of the e-mail I sent to Mr. Echols.

Hi Tim,

I would like to know how my email addresses, which were used to sign up for John Oxendine campaign emails, were released to Maria Sheffield’s campaign?

I signed up to receive email from the Oxendine campaign with the confidence that my email addresses would not be sold/given/traded with other campaigns or anyone else, as I am not interested in the slightest in most other campaign notifications.

The only political campaign I used these email addresses with was the Oxendine campaign so I know it wasn’t just coincidence that I received spam from the Sheffield campaign on both those accounts on February 5th.

Please let me know how (and why) this happened, as I am not happy in the slightest to be receiving spam at either of these addresses.

Thank you,

Michael T. Barrett
Temple, GA

At 9:49 this morning, I received the following response.

Michael,

Upon further investigation, you may be getting these emails because you have a blog. I know that we typically add bloggers to our list in an effort to disseminate information, and I am sure other candidates do this too. Great photos of the ivory gull on your site too, by the way.

We do not sell or give our list to anyone, so unless it was stolen or hacked, I don’t think it was from us. When you sign up on the database, that info goes into our CRM database. I do know that
numerous folks have tried to hack into that, but to our knowledge no one had been successful.

Thanks for your inquiry and I apologize. I can remove you from the list if necessary.

Tim

I have been ‘blogging’ since July of 1997, and not once in all that time have I been added to any political candidate’s e-mail list, nor any elected official’s e-mail list without my consent. The fact that I am a ‘blogger’ does not imply any willingness to receive unsolicited e-mails from any politician, let alone anyone else.

I have written about political scandals, been critical of sitting Presidents, worked actively on political campaigns, and covered politics in general for the better part of 28 years (13 of it blogging) and this explanation just does not fly with me. Sorry. The more I think about it now, the more I can’t help but think I was being “poo-poo’d” from the beginning.

Mr. Echols went on to state that unless the list was stolen or hacked he didn’t think it came from them. Well then, there are only four possibilities here.

  1. The Oxendine campaign sold their mailing list.
  2. The Oxendine campaign shared their mailing list.
  3. The Oxendine campaign mailing list was stolen.
  4. The Oxendine campaign mailing list database was hacked.

Of course there are a few other possibilities but I am trying, in all fairness, to be reasonable here. He thanked me for my inquiry, apologized, and offered to remove me from the list.

Wow. Why would I need to be removed from the Oxendine list? I wanted to receive e-mail alerts from his campaign, why on Earth would Mr. Echols offer to remove me from their list. If my addresses had been sold/shared/stolen/hacked it was already too late, so why would I need to be removed from Oxendine’s list? Unless, of course, there was some explanation for all of this that I was not aware of.

The following is my next response to Mr. Echols.

Hi Tim,

Thank you for your quick response, I appreciate it.

Your explanation would be plausible and I might tend to believe it if one of the emails involved was not one of my business email addresses.

I do not use that address with anything blog related, and I have never received anything from any other campaign except the Oxendine campaign with the exception of these new emails from the Sheffield campaign.

The email address in question does not receive any other unsolicited emails and the Sheffield emails came to both addresses on your list.

Because I know your reputation, I do believe you wouldn’t sell or give the addresses out so I will post an update on my blog, but I would appreciate it if you double checked on your end because the Sheffield campaign got both of my addresses, one of which like I said, is on no other list but yours.

————————-
Michael T. Barrett
(Sent from my iPhone)

At the time I sent that response (11:15 am) I actually believed Tim Echols. In fact, as I began writing this post today, I still thought it was possible that he didn’t know if the list had been sold/shared/stolen/hacked. But then again, he is Oxendine’s campaign manager. If anyone knows what’s going on in that campaign, it would be him. I wasn’t sure what to believe until I received his next response.

Michael,

Thanks, and I have one more question in my internal investigation.

The business email is “insurance” related or no? Can you give me that email address so I can check my lists (I have about 40 of them)? Did you actually sign up for our stuff using that “business” email, or was it another?

Tim

Why would it matter if my business e-mail address was “insurance” related? Do they have some special “insurance” related list that they are freely passing on to other candidates? Does it really matter if my e-mail address is “insurance” related or on any one or more of 40 lists?

I received two e-mails from the Sheffield campaign, who is to say I won’t receive more from other candidates in the future?

He needed my address to check his lists. All 40 of them. Wait one moment. I thought (based on the first e-mail response) that all of the e-mail addresses were added to the CRM database? Wouldn’t it be easier to check my addresses in the database rather than manually check each of the 40 lists? Where do they keep those 40 lists anyway? Who has access to those lists?

Did one or more of those 40 lists get passed on to the Sheffield campaign? I can’t be sure, because Kathryn Ballou, the campaign manager for Maria Sheffield, never answered my e-mail inquiry today. Could there be some other connection I was missing here? That’s when I decided to do a little more homework.

Some of you political junkies may have already known some of this, but even you non-political types are going to raise an eyebrow when you read this.

Let’s start with Kathryn Ballou, Maria Sheffield’s campaign manager. Did you know she was John Oxendine’s campaign manager before Tim Echols took over?

Doesn’t it seem odd that the campaign that spammed my e-mail accounts is being managed by the same person who used to manage the Oxendine campaign? Is this just a coincidence or could the passing of information be more of a “I’ll scratch your back” kind of thing rather than a selling/sharing/stealing/hacking thing? It wouldn’t be such a stretch to believe this if only there was some other connection that would make this “back scratching” theory more plausible.

Oh wow, just look at that, will you? There’s Maria Sheffield. Could she be the connection we’re looking for? You bet she is.

Did you know Maria Sheffield spent six years working with the Georgia Department of Insurance?

Don’t forget now, John Oxendine has been the Insurance Commissioner of Georgia since 1994. Come on now, put two and two together already. John Oxendine is Maria Sheffield’s former boss.

So let’s review what we have so far.

My e-mail addresses were sold/shared/stolen/hacked by the John Oxendine campaign to the campaign of his former employee and heir apparent, Maria Sheffield, which is being run by his former campaign manager, Kathryn Ballou.

I may be relatively new to the Georgia political scene, but I wasn’t born yesterday.

While I cannot be certain what went down or how my e-mail addresses ended up on Maria Sheffield’s mailing list, I am convinced it happened because of these two connections and I have no doubt that members of the Oxendine campaign as well as members of the Sheffield campaign knew exactly what they were doing.

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