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Ken Dixon: Is there no privacy in social media?

It’ll be another couple months before the hearing officer decides what to recommend to the full commission, but Adams is hanging out to dry, at this point.

Adams claimed he was sleep-deprived and coping with the logistics of his growing family when the public-documents request came in from a lawyer for the Otoe-Missouria who had found posts on Facebook and Twitter that criticized the tribe, which now wants Adams to be liable for civil penalties for failing to properly retain public records.

The Banking Department and the tribe have been battling over the issue of tribal immunity and their pay-day loan companies called Clear Creek Lending and Great Plains Lending, which charge Connecticut residents high-interest, short terms as high as 449 percent. Connecticut limits loan amounts to 12 percent.

The Banking Department tried to penalize the tribe, but a Superior Court judge upheld the issue of tribal immunity for the Otoe-Missouria.

The battle over the alleged usury has clearly been eclipsed by Adams’ open-records case before the FOIC. Assistant attorneys general defending Adams said he was simply stating his personal views of the conflict.

Adams’ posts included overt criticism of the tribe, and he asked his Twitter followers to contact the Banking Department with complaints about pay-day loans.

“Just imagine the public reaction if CT purposefully set up an Internet payday lender to violate tribal lending laws,” was one of posts that Adams deleted, but the tribe saved screen shots for the benefit of FOIC Staff Attorney Lisa Siegel, the hearing officer. She will decide whether Adams’ deleted posts are work-related public property.

“After engaging in an adversarial and negative social media campaign against certain lawful tribal lending activities, the Lieutenant Governor’s Counsel … covered up his smear campaign by intentionally and knowingly deleting his numerous social media posts about these issues,” the tribe’s legal team wrote in a post-hearing memorandum last week. “As a long-standing and high ranking public official and government attorney fully knowledgeable of the State’s open records laws, Adams admittedly knew better than to delete his records when faced with public disclosure pursuant to a Freedom of Information request.”

During the hearings, Adams said Buffkin ordered him to take down his posts critical of the tribe. Buffkin — whose office is right across from the governor on the second floor of the Capitol and who had to sit through hours and hours of the FOIC when she could have actually been working for the state of Connecticut — denied having done so.

Memory is a fickle thing. Certainly it is for Adams. The tribe, pursuing this case with an aggressive team of lawyers led by Jeffrey White, isn’t forgetting anything in its campaign. The people of Connecticut will likely end up with a precedent-setting case on what, if anything, is private in the realm of social media, public-documents law, and the First Amendment.

Ken Dixon can be reached in the Capitol at 860-549-4670 or at kdixon@ctpost.com. See twitter.com/KenDixonCT. His Facebook address is kendixonct.hearst. Dixon’s Connecticut Blog-o-rama is at blog.ctnews.com/dixon/

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