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by B-T » 10/09/12 12:05:12
State Attorney candidate John Torraco’s name was run through the state’s DAVID system five times in a four-month period by an employee of the State Attorney’s office for the 12th Circuit, where his opponent serves as chief deputy. It wasn’t related to a criminal case or for any other purpose for which the office would be authorized to use the criminal records database.
In fact, the office hasn’t been able to say just why the queries were made. Torraco suspects that it could have been a politically-motivated effort to look for potentially-damaging records, which would be a violation of state law.
State records show that two queries were made on August 23rd of last year, followed by two more that November, as well as another the next month.
On March 15th of this year, one more was made (update: see comment below), followed six minutes later by a DAVID query on Torraco originated within the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office, which is within the 12th Judicial Circuit. Sheriff Tom Knight did not return calls requesting comment. Ed Brodsky declined to comment personally.
Jennifer Moran said that she was unable to ascertain why the inquires were made and could only say that Torraco’s record was not altered or tampered with in any way. Moran said that the query run this March was by a different employee who said she’d “heard Torraco was running.”
Misuse of the state’s law enforcement database is illegal and employees with access to it are trained extensively on the parameters of its use.
In 2010, it cost a Sarasota police officer her job when she accessed DAVID records to provide a family member with the address of someone (read more here…). The family member used the information to attack the person after invading their home.
State Attorney Robert Jarvis dropped out of his re-election race as part of a deal to avoid charges after a former employee revealed that Jarvis had used DAVID to research political opponents and others without proper cause (read more here…).
No evidence has been uncovered thus far to link Brodsky to the queries, but Torraco points out that it’s Brodsky’s own office that is responsible for the investigation.
Jarvis, a Democrat, was investigated by a Republican state attorney from another district, who had been appointed by Governor Rick Scott, possibly paving the way for a Republican state attorney to win that district, and raising the question of whether the fact that Torraco is a Democrat makes a vigorous investigation less likely.
Brodsky has come under fire on accusations that he is politicizing the office and perhaps illegally, using his position to affect his chances of winning the election.
Direct mail pieces sent out by the campaign display both sitting members of the judiciary and Florida’s state seal behind Brodsky in the court room, both of which could be interpreted as violations of state statutes.
The judge in question, Deborah Riva, asked in a letter to be taken off the campaign material in order to prevent her impartiality from being questioned. Brodsky declined to stop using the photo in his ads even after Riva’s request.