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Lone Star Project Report

Greg Abbott’s Privacy Hypocrisy

Abbott feigns concern about privacy, yet is responsible for a giant data breach that exposed millions to potential identity theft.

Statements by Matt Angle, Director of the Lone Star Project

“Greg Abbott’s actions are both hypocritical and dishonest. While spreading conspiracy theories out the front door of his official state office, he left the back door wide open for criminals to steal the identities of millions of Texans. If Abbott really cared about the security and welfare of Texans, he would’ve advocated creating a state-run healthcare exchange rather than ceding control to the federal government.”

“Abbott’s crass hypocrisy doesn’t just hurt uninsured Texans. Our state stands to gain hundreds of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in economic benefit from the new healthcare law. For his own partisan political purposes, Greg Abbott and other Texas GOP leaders have made blocking access to healthcare in Texas a top political priority, and are willing to make false statements and exaggerated claims to get their way.”

In a transparent pander to Republican ideologues and Tea Party extremists, Greg Abbott is attempting to raise the specter that Texans’ personal information could be vulnerable if they enroll in a healthcare plan as part of the public health exchange required under the Affordable Care Act.

Abbott claimed to the Austin American Statesman that he is, “…deeply concerned about privacy and the security of this very sensitive information."

Greg Abbott failed, however, to disclose that he is responsible for one of the biggest data breaches in Texas history. His incompetence exposed the social security numbers of over 6 million Texans, leaving them vulnerable to potential identify theft.

Here’s what happened:

  • During litigation last year on the Texas Voter ID Bill, Abbott bungled a court order requiring him to send voter records to opposing legal counsel. Abbott failed to redact the personal social security numbers of at least 6 million Texas voters included in the surrendered records.
  • Had it not been for the diligence, competence and integrity of Abbott’s opposing legal counsel, the records might have been sent to a commercial data center to be formatted for use in trial, thus making them vulnerable to unscrupulous individuals who could have sold the records to identity thieves.
  • The Lone Star Project broke the story on Abbott’s bungle. The Houston Chronicle and other news outlets confirmed Abbott didn't know the breach had occurred until being informed by opposing attorneys for the Democratic plaintiffs. 

Abbott’s claim to privacy risks for those enrolling in healthcare exchanges is a political scare tactic and one more in a series of legal system abuses for his own political purposes.