Result of FOIA fight: 2 texts

CHAMPAIGN — Mayor Don Gerard doesn't text during city council meetings.

Neither do council members Will Kyles, Marci Dodds or Michael La Due, who says he puts his cellphone on vibrate and buries it in a shoulder bag "as to not disrupt meetings."

Other city council members don't consider the messages they send to be related to public business.

And Tom Bruno, for one, routinely deletes all his text messages as soon as he reads them — those are not retrievable.

The city turned over only two text messages sent or received by the nine city council members during 10 meetings in 2011. Several council members turned over the city-related emails they sent or received from their personal email addresses during those meetings, and those notes were more numerous than the text messages.

After a two-year legal battle between the city and The News-Gazette over whether the records should be made public under the state's Freedom of Information Act, the city says some of the records are not retrievable from cellphone companies and, if they had existed, would be lost forever.

"I think the real problem is that the state archivist has not promulgated any regulations with respect to the retention of these records," said City Attorney Fred Stavins. "This is not a new issue; everyone is aware of it."

Stavins said the city is looking for some direction from state officials in an era where electronic communication is commonplace.

The bulk of the messages the city unveiled in response to the newspaper's Freedom of Information Act request came from council members Tom Bruno and Deborah Frank Feinen.

Bruno, who turned his records over to the city attorney within 24 hours of the initial request, said he sent or received 46 emails during those 10 meetings in May, June and July 2011. Some of those were deemed not of a public nature and are exempt from disclosure under the state law.

He did not have any text messages to provide.

"I routinely delete all text messages as soon as I read them, so I am unable to provide any," he wrote in an email to an assistant city attorney.

Feinen, who gave her records to the city attorney a few days later, provided a number of emails, two text messages and a Google Voice conversation with Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten. Hulten, a former city council member, was curious about the outcome of city council votes on a few issues.

Hulten was also the sender of one of Feinen's text messages: "How's liquor discussion?" he asked on June 14.

The other came from Champaign firefighter Brad Diel on the same night: "By the way Tom's definition of not browning out is actually the exact definition of a brown-out."

City council members were meeting that night to discuss a new package liquor tax, which ultimately did not pass. The "brown-out" text message referred to city council members' deliberations over reducing the amount of firefighter overtime, which consequently would reduce the amount of time a fire engine on the city's west side could operate.

The appellate court ruling this summer that compelled the city to disclose the records applied only to emails, text messages and other records relating to city business sent or received by council members during an ongoing public meeting.

The city initially denied a request for those records in July 2011, which kicked off a series of appeals and court hearings on whether the Freedom of Information Act applies to records generated on elected officials' privately owned devices.

Some council members told the city's legal department that the records simply do not exist.

"I do not send texts or email missives during meetings," Gerard said in an email to a city attorney on July 17, 2011, two days after the original News-Gazette request. "The only messages which I have 'checked' during those times were of a personal nature. I can make my city phone available upon request for IT to review."

City council members also had no Twitter, Facebook or other similar kinds of messages to provide.

"It was determined that I received my texts before the time of the meetings," Foster said in an email to the assistant city attorney. "I do not have any texts or emails that would be considered 'public record' for the dates/times requested."

The law requires the city to maintain public records, but Stavins said there is no mechanism to do so in the case of text messages. Most cellphone providers do not keep records of the content of text messages, and the ones that do only retain those records for a few days.

"I suppose we're going to consult more with the city council to see how they want to deal with this," Stavins said.

Stavins said the appellate court ruling also left a number of "ambiguities": specifically, does a city council member have to read a message for that record to be considered "received" during a public meeting? And what should elected officials do if their mailboxes are full?

For now, though, Stavins said the city plans to let council members operate at their own discretion.

"They're aware of the implications of the decision, and they're aware of the ambiguities of the decision as well," Stavins said. "They're well equipped to deal with that."

The problem, though, could be with city officials and not with their inability to keep those records, said Esther Seitz, a Springfield attorney who litigated the case on behalf of the newspaper.

"I think the problem here is the way that the city behaved in this case is that they specifically told council members that they don't need to forward text messages anymore," Seitz said.

City legal staff initially asked council members to forward their messages to city attorneys for review. After some more analysis, the legal staff decided the messages on elected officials' private devices were exempt from the state law and told council members to stop forwarding them.

"The problem is that the city should have asked its council members, its public officials, to forward the messages," Seitz said.

Any text messages that were not forwarded would now be lost.

The appellate court's ruling, however, reinforces the state law on public records.

"Regardless of form, government records that pertain to government business are subject to FOIA," Seitz said. "I think the correct outcome was reached here."

The court even went beyond the scope of the case, Seitz said, to advise local governments on how they might deal with the ruling.

"The court went out of its way to advise the city in how to instruct its officials in the future," Seitz said. "I think the court went above and beyond in trying to help the city out here."

One of those solutions, the court suggested, might be for local government to restrict or prohibit elected officials' use of cellphones during public meetings.

Stavins, however, said the city is still awaiting direction from state officials on how to address the law. Simply prohibiting the use of phones, he said, does not fix the problem.

"That's not a solution," Stavins said.

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Mr Dreamy wrote on August 26, 2013 at 11:08 am

So the News Gazette wasted thousands of city dollars in this silly quest for 2 unimportant texts. Maybe Patrick Wade should have figured out in advance that texts are not kept by cell companies, and that most people delete their texts right away to avoid clogging up their phone's memory. Sheesh.

GeneralLeePeeved wrote on August 26, 2013 at 1:08 pm

Far be it for me to defend the N-G, but the counter-argument could be made as well.....that the City wasted a lot of taxpayer dollars, time and N-G resources by continuing it's stance....all for two unimportant texts.

Marti Wilkinson wrote on August 26, 2013 at 11:08 pm

In some of my own communications with council members, I've noticed a tendency for them to answer correspondence using their personal email addresses. While I can understand city emails being forwarded to private accounts, I personally think that we need to see people use the assigned city emails for city business. The point that has been made by the NG is that council members have chosen to go 'under the radar' in regards to communication. This limits the ability for news organizations, and private citizens to hold our elected officials accountable. 

If a member of the council is going to use personal electronic means to engage with people, then perhaps it needs to be subject to the FOIA requests. The General notes that it was the choice of the city to waste time, money, and resources in fighting the request. 

Political Observer wrote on August 27, 2013 at 1:08 am

There's not really very much that I find of overall interest in this article, as it's currently written, but of course what we seem to find time and time again in reading the online News-Gazette is that the interesting features of a particular story line often are developed in the reader comments and in the interactions among readers, as each individual shares his or her own perspective of what's going on and provides a description of how things look from that particular vantagepoint.

The News-Gazette has started things off by describing how one blind man describes the elephant, based on the features that are closest to its own vantagepoint.  Perhaps as more and more readers weigh in with descriptions of what things look like from  their vantagepoints, we can begin to get an overall view of what the elephant actually looks like.

Political Observer wrote on August 27, 2013 at 2:08 am

A part of the article that caught my attention was this passage:

-------------------------------------

[Deborah Frank] Feinen, who gave her records to the city attorney a few days later, provided a number of emails, two text messages and a Google Voice conversation with Champaign County Clerk Gordy Hulten. Hulten, a former city council member, was curious about the outcome of city council votes on a few issues.

Hulten was also the sender of one of Feinen's text messages: "How's liquor discussion?" he asked on June 14.

-------------------------------------

One thought that comes to mind is this:  After the News-Gazette fought so hard and so long to establish that these communications belonged in the public domain, one might expect that once they actually obtained them, then they'd publish the whole lot of them, right?  (...as opposed to just listing the numbers of the various types of communications, and only releasing the text of one of Hulten's communications as an example!). So, what's up with that?  There's no sidebar to the article featuring the rest of the raw data they obtained?!

So, what else did Sgt.Hulten have to say in the communications back and forth between these two lovebirds, besides, "How's liquor discussion?"  What was in the "number of emails" they sent and what's available from the Google Voice conversation?  What were the outcomes "of city council votes on a few issues" that he was curious about, other than the liquor discussion?  What was the liquor discussion that was going on, back on June 14th, anyway?  And, of course, did he tend to sign off on his emails with something like, "Love ya, Deb!...But don't ya think we should stop sneaking around like this?!!...Signed, Your Big Sarge" ;-)

Political Observer wrote on August 27, 2013 at 2:08 am

Oops! I just noticed that link, "FOIA documents 08262013" that's up at the top of the page, where it says,

Other Related Content

I'm going to have to go out and buy a magnifying glass, and pore through those documents to see if that's the sidebar I was looking for!

Political Observer wrote on August 27, 2013 at 3:08 am

After just a quick look-through (and no magnifying glass, yet!), it does look like there might be some moderately-interesting pages in the 110715_FOIA-response.pdf document.  

First of all, it's a 64-page document.  So, even with some material showing a bit of duplication in places, it's clear that there's more than just "2 texts" that were turned over.  (Thus, perhaps the title of the article we're discussing, "Result of FOIA fight: 2 texts," is a bit inaccurate, wouldn't you say?...)

Political Observer wrote on August 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Page 40 (of 64) in the "110715_FOIA-response.pdf" document has some messages back and forth between Feinen and Sgt. Hulten (although it's a bit difficult to read in some places, because of a lack of clarity in the pdf images).  The title of the page is, "Google Voice From My iPad," and on the page, Hulten asks a number of times about the budget, and then, later on at the bottom of the page, "What happened with the jobs program?"

To put this in context a bit, this all takes place back in 2011, after Sgt. Hulten had been appointed by the Champaign County Republican Party to replace the departed Mark Shelden, and when he'd been in office as Acting County Clerk for only a few months.  But, wait!  What's happened to the infamous, "Results Plus Consulting" Dirty Tricks Business that he'd been running for years?  Well, he's publicly claimed, quite preposterously some might say, that his best friend, Jeremy Cirks, had been his equal business partner in the venture all along, right from the very start, and he'd sold his share of the business to Cirks before he'd taken the oath of office as County Clerk!  If this were indeed what had happened, he could then indeed truthfully claim that he hadn't engaged in the kind of partisan political activity (which has always been a key component of his "Results Plus Consulting" Dirty Tricks Business) for the entire time that he'd been acting as Champaign County's Election Authority!  (Unfortunately, for The Sarge, however, there's lots and lots of evidence that suggests this isn't true...which I'll get to later!)

But first, even though there's quite a bit of evidence that this isn't a truthful claim to begin with, let's just, for the sake of argument, go ahead and assume that Sgt. Hulten did indeed sell his entire stake in the company before taking office as County Clerk, and thus his best friend Jeremy Cirks has been the 100% owner of the "Results Plus Consulting" Dirty Tricks Business since early in 2011.  Even so, note that this isn't a so-called "arms length transaction" between the two gentlemen, because they're long-time best friends!...So this whole thing doesn't even pass the so-called "sniff test," even if their story were true!!  Also, note that we're pretty much totally dependent on what Hulten, Cirks and Deborah Frank Feinen (Hulten's long-time registered business agent) say on this issue, because what other independent records of the sale and the ownership exist?  (I'm assuming that Hulten and Cirks aren't going to be releasing their tax returns any time soon, to prove that they've always been "equal partners," and this so-called "equal partnership" suddenly ended just before Hulten became County Clerk!)

Anyway, here's the really funny part of all this: After only a few months in the position of County Clerk, Sgt. Hulten wanted to hire a top assistant who could help him out, and act as his so-called "Chief Deputy County Clerk," and he apparentlly didn't feel there was really any need to write up a job description and go out and do a search for individuals who might possibly be appropriate candidates, because he'd already found the person who he thought was the absolutely perfect candidate for the job...namely, his best friend and former "equal business partner," Jeremy Cirks!!!  So, right after supposedly making sure that his dirty tricks business was "completely independent" of the County Clerk's Office by selling it off in a fake "arms length transaction," Sgt. Hulten then turned around and hired the buyer, Jeremy Cirks, as his "right hand man!"  Wow!  Isn't that a great way of ensuring public trust in the integrity of the Champaign County Election Authority!  (Great line for a movie, "No, No No! It's not ME doing the electoral dirty tricks any more!...It's my Chief Deputy!!...or if it's a musical, maybe the State's Attorney could sing, "I absolved the Sergeant, but I did indict his deputy!!")

Through these clownish shenanigans, Sgt. Hulten has ensured that his dirty tricks business is still alive and well, right inside the Champaign County Clerk's Office, with the torch-bearer now his long-time friend and trusted deputy!  In fact, for the last several years, the County Clerk's Office has featured so-called "one-stop shopping" for campaign signs, media buys and whatever else is needed to run a campaign (including, apparently, whatever dirty tricks may be necessary, as well)!  And isn't it interesting that Champaign City Council Member Deborah Frank Feinen has been the business agent of record for the entire time Sgt. Hulten's business has been in existence (including back when it first started and also the time when it allegedly changed ownership)?  If Hulten's story starts to crack and fall apart, and it turns out that the change of ownership was a sham transaction, how long will Feinen, the attorney, continue to stick by her good friend, Gordy?

But, now that things have been put in a bit of historical context, let's get back to page 40 of the 64-page pdf.  It turns out that you can magnify the page to about, say, 130% of normal size by simply clicking the "+" at the top of the page...(so no magnifying glass is necessary, heh-heh-heh!).  When you do this, it appears that the dates of the messages on the page are successively  5-10-11,  6-7-11, and then 6-7-11 a second time.  So why was Sgt. Hulten so anxious at that time to find out where the City of Champaign's deliberations on the budgeting process were going, and why would he be asking, "What happened with the jobs program?"  Could it be that he was so elated that he was getting away with hiring his best friend and former "equal business partner" as his new chief deputy (Jeremy Cirks started his hew job as Chief Deputy to Hulten just a bit after this, in July of 2011), that he and long-time buddy Deb Frank Feinen wanted to hire another common friend for a job in the City of Champaign, if the money was there in the budget, and the jobs program was still looking to be in good shape?!  Or are we supposed to believe that Sgt. Hulten was just such a 24/7 policy wonk that he would exchange messages back and forth with his long-time close friend Feinen during Champaign City Council meetings, the way other long-time close friends might exchange pillow talk? 

It seems like there's really a lot of follow-up reporting that needs to be done on what this is all about!  What ultimately happened with the budget and the jobs program afterward, and who was hired around that time?  After spending all this money and time on getting these messages through their expensive legal maneuvers, is the News-Gazette going to sit by and let some other news organization get the story?  (Pssst!...Are there any Daily Illini / Illini Media Company reporters interested in beating the News-Gazette to a scoop?) :-)

 

Political Observer wrote on August 28, 2013 at 11:08 pm

It's also somewhat intriguing that Sgt. Hulten was so interested in the Champaign City Council's deliberations on liquor issues.  What's up with that?  What was going on back at that time that led Sgt. Hulten to send 2 separate messages, on different dates, the one that appears on Page 40 of the pdf, "What happened with liquor?" and the other that appears on Page 42 of the pdf, "How's liquor discussion?"

read the DI wrote on August 31, 2013 at 8:08 am

I just assumed he is a raging alcoholic.

Political Observer wrote on August 29, 2013 at 11:08 pm

Speaking of Chief Deputy County Clerk Jeremy Cirks, here's something to think about, from a Tom Kacich column from last October (10-21-12), where Kacich was writing about people who've made campaign donations to Republican Rodney Davis:
-----------------------------------------
http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2012-10-21/tom-kacich-sources-fun...

U.S. Rep. Tim Johnson hasn't donated to the campaign of Davis, but a number of his staffers and former staffers have.

Chief of staff Mark Shelden gave Davis $250, as did Joan Dkystra, Johnson's district director. Former Johnson staffer Jeremy Cirks gave $808.60.
---------------------------------------
Jeremy Cirks has been Chief Deputy County Clerk for about 15 months at the time this article was written, but for some strange reason (God only knows!) Kacich identifies him only as a "former Johnson staffer."  (Would it have been that much harder to have written, "Chief Deputy County Clerk and former Johnson staffer Jeremy Cirks gave $808.60."...??)

Anyway, does anyone have any qualms when people who work in the County Clerk's office and help count the votes are making campaign contributions to people whose votes they're helping to count?  (I'm not talking legal issues here, as I know the law permits it; I'm talking about issues of perception of fairness and professionalism in the democratic processes, and about avoiding allegations of favoritism and conflict of interest.)

Stated another way, if a Democratic dirty trickster was elected County Clerk, and he then hired his best friend and long-time business colleague as his Chief Deputy to help count the votes in the elections, would any Republicans have any qualms if the Democratic Chief Deputy then gave $808.60 in campaign contributions to a Democratic candidate for Congress, who was running in a close, highly-contested race?  Hmmm...

Mr Dreamy wrote on August 27, 2013 at 9:08 am

Sometimes muckrakers only get dirty, and not the Pulitzer Prize they were looking for. Unless you are PoliticalObserver, who's negative attacks seem self-justifying.

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 1:08 am

Thank you for your kind thoughts, Mr. Dreamy! 

And may I say, to all Moms and Dads, boys and girls, and political observers of whatever belief systems you may happen to have, all along the political spectrum...

Whenever I hear that gentle, tinkling sound of the bells on Mr. Dreamy's  Ice Cream Truck in my neighborhood, I always drop whatever I'm doing at the time and order a tasty, delicious ice cream treat from the man with the truck that can't be beat!! 

So next time you hear a Mr. Dreamy truck tinkling in your neighborhood, remember what Political Observer always tells you:

"There's really no way to beat the heat,

Like a Mr. Dreamy ice cream treat!"

And now, let's get back to our regularly scheduled program!!

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 1:08 am

And, yes, we're back now to our regular feature "What the News-Gazette Forgot to Tell You!"...after returning from a brief intermission and a word from our sponsor!

 
To this point, we've been examining a very unusual relationship among County Clerk Gordy Hulten, his Chief Deputy Jeremy Cirks, and Hulten's other close friend and texting-buddy, Deborah Frank Feinen.  So far, we've mostly been looking at some of the things we've learned in examining the recently-released document,  "110715_FOIA_response.pdf"... but we can learn a great deal more about the interrelations of our three persons of interest if we examine a column that Jim Dey wrote earlier this summer on 6-22-13, that can be found at this link:

http://www.news-gazette.com/opinion/columns/2013-06-22/jim-dey-no-prohib...

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 2:08 am

First let me say that Mr. Dey's column is a very interesting one, indeed...but the comment at the end of the article by the reader "Basset" is also very much right to the point, that even though all these strange goings-on in the County Clerk's office may perhaps be legal, the question of whether they're ethical is really another question altogether.

Also, I was very glad to see the column appear, because it tells a story that needs to be told.  But, at the same time, I can't help but wonder why it took so long for the News-Gazette to publish this, since pretty much everything in the article could have been written before last November's election, when things really mattered and when the article could have made the difference in the outcome of the election.

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 3:08 am

To make this latter point, that Mr. Dey's column could have been written well before last November's election, consider this post I made to the News-Gazette reader forum way back on April 13, 2012, where I made reference to "Results Plus Consulting," nearly 7 months before last November's election:
------------------------------

http://www.news-gazette.com/news/local/2012-04-13/blakeman-gop-choice-se...

Let’s review the massive conflicts of interest here. Hulten is not only the Acting County Clerk, for years he ran the dirty “IlliniPundit.com” Limbaugh-like website that specialized in rumors, smears and attacks against Democrats and Democratic candidates. He ran and still runs on the side the extremely lucrative Republican consulting and web-hosting business, “Results Plus Consulting” (that the media choose to deliberately avert their eyes from, to help keep Hulten’s battleship afloat). Hulten and Winkel have a cozy relationship that goes way back; Hulten’s served as Winkel’s campaign manager in the past, he’s also hosted Winkel’s campaign websites in the past, and he even hosted the new Winkel campaign website that was just set up last Fall. Hulten and Deborah Frank Feinen also go way back, as well; Hulten’s hosted (and still hosts) her campaign website, while she serves as the agent of record for his “Results Plus Consulting” business and even turned in his campaign petitions for him last Fall. (Hulten also hosts Linda Frank’s campaign website as well, as well as the websites of numerous other Republican politicians, including Chapin Rose and Tim Johnson. As was noted earlier, this is really quite a lucrative business that Hulten runs on the side, free so far from any kind of public media scrutiny whatsoever.)
--------------------------


Now, I still stand by what I wrote in April of 2012, of course, even though it stands in direct conflict with what Hulten and Cirks recently claimed in Jim Dye's 6-22-13 column:

-------------------------

Once an equal partner with Cirks in Results Plus, Hulten sold his share after becoming county clerk in 2011 because he said "consulting would not be appropriate for a county clerk."

"I don't do consulting any more," he said.

Indeed, Hulten said it's important for him and his employees to be nonpartisan and that he is unaware of the details of Cirks' off-hours activities as a political consultant.

"I don't know who he consults for or even if he does any consulting," Hulten said.

Although Cirks said he's not involved in any 2014 campaigns, Results Plus has been a big player in Republican Party politics and past elections.

Both Hulten and Cirks freely discussed their current and past association with Results Plus. Cirks said "we have been open about it since day one" and that "if (Results Plus) ever becomes an issue, I'll close the business."

Cirks indicated that he is aware some local partisans have suggested there is an appearance problem with a county clerk employee operating an outside political consulting firm. But there is no specific prohibition of the practice.

Deb Feinen, the lawyer and registered agent for Results Plus, said Cirks' outside employment is well within the law.
--------------------------

So which side is telling the truth here?  Are Hulten and Cirks telling the truth when they claim to Jim Dye that they were once equal partners in Results Plus Consulting, but Hulten sold his share to Cirks when he became County Clerk early in 2011, or am I telling the truth when I claim that Results Plus Consulting was primarily Hulten's company when it was set up back in 2007, and he still retains some interest in it right to the present day?

 

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 5:08 am

Well, here's a quick way to answer the truthfulness question.  Recall that I said in my 4-13-2012 reader forum post that Sgt. Hulten "even hosted the new Winkel campaign website that was just set up last Fall."

The website that I was referring to in that post was, "rickwinkel.org," so all we need to do is run a standard "WHOIS" lookup on that website to see who set it up, who's the admin. for it, and who's the tech person for it,... and when we do that, here's what we find:

--------------------------------------

http://whois.domaintools.com/rickwinkel.org

Domain ID:D163841911-LROR
Domain Name:RICKWINKEL.ORG
Created On:11-Nov-2011 15:38:10 UTC
Last Updated On:11-Jan-2012 03:49:32 UTC
Expiration Date:11-Nov-2013 15:38:10 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, LLC (R91-LROR)
Registrant ID:CR97822787
Registrant Name:Gordy Hulten
Admin ID:CR97822789
Admin Name:Gordy Hulten
Tech ID:CR97822788
Tech Name:Gordy Hulten

---------------------------------------

Isn't this an interesting result?  Even though Sgt. Hulten claims that he doesn't do consulting any more and he sold his share in Results Plus Consulting when he became County Clerk (which was early in 2011), yet here he is many months later on November 11, 2011 setting up "rickwinkel.org" for his friend RIck Winkel...and even now at the end of August, 2013 he's still listed as the registrant, the admin. and the tech. person for that site!  Wouldn't you expect to see the name "Jeremy Cirks" listed in those entries, if Hulten had indeed sold his share to Cirks early in 2011?  What is Hulten doing setting up and being responsible for this website, long after he's supposedly sold out his interest (and is supposedly no longer doing political work)?!

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 5:08 am


And here's another way to answer the truthfulness question.  Recall that I said in my 4-13-2012 reader forum post that "Hulten and Deborah Frank Feinen also go way back, as well; Hulten’s hosted (and still hosts) her campaign website, while she serves as the agent of record for his “Results Plus Consulting” business and even turned in his campaign petitions for him last Fall."

The website that I was referring to in that post was, "electdeb.com," so all we need to do is run a standard "WHOIS" lookup on that website to see who set it up, who's the admin. for it, and who's the tech. person for it,... and when we do that, here's what we find:

--------------------------------------

http://who.godaddy.com/whois.aspx?domain=electdeb.com&prog_id=GoDaddy

Domain Name: ELECTDEB.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2012-08-02 10:02:56
Creation Date: 2003-09-12 16:50:04
Registrar Expiration Date: 2014-09-12 16:50:04
Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten
---------------------------------------

Isn't this an interesting result?  Even though Sgt. Hulten claims that he doesn't do consulting any more and that he sold his share in Results Plus Consulting when he became County Clerk (which was early in 2011), yet here he is months later, at the end of August, 2013, still listed as the registrant, the admin. and the tech. person for Deborah Frank Feinen's campaign site!  Wouldn't you expect to see the name "Jeremy Cirks" listed in those entries, if Hulten had indeed sold his share to Cirks early in 2011?  Why is Hulten still involved with this website, when he's supposedly no longer doing political work?!

Political Observer wrote on August 30, 2013 at 4:08 pm

I don't know about you, dear readers, but I'm starting to have some fun with this investigation!  (Maybe it has something to do with that famous old expression, "Hoist on his own petard!"... Doesn't that phrase seem quite fitting if the dishonesty of a supposed "computer professional" can be demonstrated by the very records that his supposed "former business" has left behind in the public domain, that clearly demonstrate he's still an active participant in the business?)

 
Recall that I mentioned in my 4-13-2012 reader forum post that Sgt. Hulten has registered and has been responsible for the websites of numerous other Republican politicians, including Chapin Rose.  The website that Hulten established for him back in 2010 was chapinrose.org, so let's run a standard "WHOIS" lookup on that website, and see what the records show.  When we do that, here's what we find:
--------------------------------------
http://whois.domaintools.com/chapinrose.org


Domain ID:D159822026-LROR
Domain Name:CHAPINROSE.ORG
Created On:04-Aug-2010 20:57:42 UTC
Last Updated On:02-Aug-2012 15:02:34 UTC
Expiration Date:04-Aug-2014 20:57:42 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, LLC (R91-LROR)
Registrant ID:CR54920457
Registrant Name:Gordy Hulten
Admin ID:CR54920462
Admin Name:Gordy Hulten
Tech ID:CR54920460
Tech Name:Gordy Hulten

---------------------------------------

Isn't this, once again, an interesting result?  Even though Sgt. Hulten claims that he doesn't do consulting any more and that he sold his share in Results Plus Consulting when he became County Clerk (which was early in 2011), yet here he is months later, at the end of August, 2013, still listed as the registrant, the admin. and the tech. person for Chapin Rose's campaign website!  Wouldn't you expect to see the name "Jeremy Cirks" listed in those entries, if Hulten had indeed sold his share to Cirks early in 2011, so that Cirks was now the sole owner?  Why is Hulten still involved with this website, when he says he's no longer doing political work?!  It's looking more and more like the "sale" of Results Plus Consulting to Jeremy Cirks was nothing more than a sham transaction!

Political Observer wrote on August 31, 2013 at 1:08 am

Jason Barickman is another Republican politician who has used Sgt. Hulten's political consulting activities, both before and during the time that Sgt Hulten has been in the County Clerk's office.  There are at least three of Barickman's websites for which Hulten is *currently* listed as the Registrant, Admin. and Tech. person: JasonBarickman.com, JasonBarickman.org and JoinJB.com.  (Until recently, there were another two domain names, as well: JoinJB.org and JoinJB.net, but those two were allowed to expire.)  The summary data for the three currently-registered websites can be seen here:

--------------------------------------
http://who.godaddy.com/whois.aspx?domain=jasonbarickman.com&prog_id=GoDaddy

Domain Name: JASONBARICKMAN.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2013-05-09 15:39:31
Creation Date: 2005-05-16 12:08:25
Registrar Expiration Date: 2016-05-16 12:08:25

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

--------------------------------------------
http://who.godaddy.com/whois.aspx?domain=jasonbarickman.org&prog_id=GoDaddy

Domain Name: JASONBARICKMAN.ORG
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2012-11-29 15:18:56
Creation Date: 2010-11-29 02:40:40
Registrar Expiration Date: 2017-11-29 02:40:40

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

---------------------------------------------
http://who.godaddy.com/whois.aspx?domain=joinjb.com&prog_id=GoDaddy

Domain Name: JOINJB.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2013-05-09 15:39:31
Creation Date: 2005-05-16 12:04:48
Registrar Expiration Date: 2016-05-16 12:04:48

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

---------------------------------------------

As you can see from these three sets of data, two of the "Updated Dates" are 5-9-13, and the other is 11-29-12, yet when Hulten made these recent updates, he didn't change any of the names to read, "Jeremy Cirks," despite his claims that (1) he doesn't do consulting any more, (2) that he sold his share of Results Plus Consulting back  when he became County Clerk (way back in 2011), and that (3) Jeremy Cirks is supposedly the new owner.  Why is Hulten still involved with these 3 websites, when he claims he's no longer doing political work?!  Once again, it's looking more and more like the "sale" of Results Plus Consulting to Jeremy Cirks was nothing more than a sham transaction!

Political Observer wrote on September 02, 2013 at 6:09 pm


Recall the quoted statements attributed to Gordy Hulten in the section of Jim Dye's 6-22-13 column that was excerpted above:

-------------------------

Once an equal partner with Cirks in Results Plus, Hulten sold his share after becoming county clerk in 2011 because he said "consulting would not be appropriate for a county clerk."

"I don't do consulting any more," he said.

Indeed, Hulten said it's important for him and his employees to be nonpartisan and that he is unaware of the details of Cirks' off-hours activities as a political consultant.

-----------------------

Well, let's see, is Sgt. Hulten really trying to be "nonpartisan" since moving into the County Clerk's office in early January of 2011, as he claims above?  If so, then certainly he must no longer be connected to either the website of the Champaign County Republican Party or the Champaign County Young Republicans, as he used to be, right?  I mean, those are both partisan websites for partisan groups, and so we can only assume that "nonpartisan Sgt. Gordy Hulten" is certainly not connected in any way to those websites, correct?

Heh-heh-heh!  If you thought that, you would be wrong...100% wrong!  Here's the current registration data for the website of the Champaign County Republican Party:

Domain Name: CHAMPAIGNCOUNTYREPUBLICANS.ORG
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2012-04-28 03:07:03
Creation Date: 2004-08-15 21:25:03

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

and, as you can readily see, Sgt. Hulten is still listed as the Registrant, the Admin. Contact, and the Tech. Consultant for the Champaign County Republicans' website, after the registration data was updated on 4-28-2012, nearly 16 months after he started acting as the Election Authority for Champaign County...And he has continued acting in that capacity for his party's website, even up to this very day, nearly 32 months after he was appointed to the position of County Clerk!

What's more, the registration data below show that he's also holding onto the ".com" version of the "ChampaignCountyRepublicans" domain, as well, just in case that might also happen to be convenient for his party:

Domain Name: CHAMPAIGNCOUNTYREPUBLICANS.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2012-04-27 22:07:13
Creation Date: 2010-05-13 08:49:14

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

Finally, the supposedly "nonpartisan Sgt. Hulten" is still listed as the Registrant, the Admin. Contact, and the Tech. Consultant for the Champaign County Young Republicans' website as well, as the registration data below show:

Domain Name: CHAMPAIGNYR.ORG
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2012-11-29 15:18:56
Creation Date: 2004-01-27 12:29:53
Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten

So, what's with this guy, anyway?  When he claimed it was important for him to be "nonpartisan" in his capacity as the Election Authority in the County Clerk's Office, did he think we were all just too lazy (or too stupid) to look up the registration data for these websites, and so therefore we'd never be able to prove that he was lying to us about how "nonpartisan" he (supposedly) was?

Political Observer wrote on September 02, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Now, I think by this point most people would probably agree that there's some serious monkey business and dishonesty going on in the County Clerk's office.  County Clerk Gordy Hulten seems to still be involved with his Results Plus Consulting business on the side, although he's lied to the public by saying that he's no longer involved in it, and he's putting up a rather flimsy and transparent pretense that he's sold it to his Chief Deputy, Jeremy Cirks.  Hulten's close friend, texting buddy and registered agent for the business, Champaign City Council member (and attorney) Deborah Frank Feinen, seems to have gone along with the charade, by making it seem like Hulten has actually done some kind of sale of the business to Cirks.

It will be interesting to see how long these three individuals try to keep this charade of a circus act going now that so many of its spinning plates have already crashed to the floor and broken...And it will also be of interest to see if the News-Gazette and other local media outlets completely ignore this story, or whether they give some minimal coverage to it, but then try to make excuses for the three, since, after all, all three are rather well-connected, establishment Republicans, and Ronald Reagan's so-called "Eleventh Commandment" specifies that one should never speak ill of a fellow Republican!

Political Observer wrote on September 04, 2013 at 10:09 pm

Here's yet one more spinning plate in this poor charade of a third-rate circus act, crashing to the floor and breaking into many tiny pieces (with reference to the accumulating evidence that Sgt. Gordy Hulten wasn't being  truthful when he told the News-Gazette that he'd sold his share of his business, "Results Plus Consulting," to his best friend, Jeremy Cirks):


Suppose we do a "Whois" lookup for the registration information associated with the website of "Results Plus Consulting," to see whose name is currently listed there - i.e. is the website listed in the name of Jeremy Cirks, the person who Hulten claims has been the company's owner (for the last 32 months),  or is it still listed under Sgt. Hulten's name?


Well, here's what a standard "Whois" inquiry tells us:
----------------------------------
Domain Name: RESULTSPLUSCONSULTING.COM
Registrar URL: http://www.godaddy.com
Updated Date: 2011-11-11 10:38:14
Creation Date: 2007-02-02 12:09:13

Registrant Name: Gordy Hulten
Admin Name: Gordy Hulten
Tech Name: Gordy Hulten
Name Server: NS1.RESULTSPLUSCONSULTING.COM
Name Server: NS2.RESULTSPLUSCONSULTING.COM
-------------------------------------------------
Yeah, of course, there's no surprise there, once again - everything continues to consistently point in the direction of dishonesty!  Sgt. Hulten is stil listed as the person of record on the company's website, even though he supposedly sold the company 32 months ago!