Adams County clerk suspected in connection with data breach

Adams County officials are trying to remove the county clerk from office, after she’s suspected of being connected with a data breach. 

According to our Madison affiliate, a Verified Statement of Charges has been brought against Adams County Clerk Cindy Phillippi. She’s suspected in manipulating the county computer system, which may have led to a security breach that affected more than 250,000 people.

The Verified Statement of Charges was filed by the Adams County Personnel Director, who alleges Phillippi gained unauthorized access to confidential computer records, established unauthorized checking accounts, deleted records, gained unauthorized access to the Health and Human Services building, released confidential information to a former employee and misled an independent investigator who was looking into her actions.

Additional court records show the Wisconsin Department of Justice seized Phillippi’s laptop. A search warrant affidavit alleges she installed a computer logging tool and captured keystrokes for nearly all computers owned by the county. Phillippi has not been charged criminally.

In the Verified Statement of Charges, the personnel director asks the Adams County Board to hear the charges against Phillippi and requests Phillippi be removed from her elected office of County Clerk. 

Phillippi has not returned our phone calls for comment, but she did submit an answer to the charges. She denied certain allegations, saying she never misled investigators or the county, and everything she did was legal, authorized by the county board or a practice that was in place before she became county clerk.

In the answer to the charges, Phillippi claims she asked for access to confidential computer records because she believed a department head was using his county computer to access pornography and she was going to investigate that. She says she never actually logged into the system. She also claims other people used her computer to log into the secure system.

The county clerk is an elected position in Adams County, Wisconsin.

The Board of Supervisors will hear the case September 19.

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