By Chris Butler | Tennessee Watchdog
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Suppose an Obamacare navigator in Tennessee gathered all your confidential information and emailed it to his or her home computer — and then claimed he did it only because he wanted to work from home.
Would you go along with that story?
Conceivably, that Obamacare navigator could have used that information for any number of criminal activities, including selling your Social Security information to others.
While there are no known instances of it happening thus far, the scenario isn’t as far-fetched as you might think — considering what happened in Nashville this week.
A former Tennessee Department of Treasury employee allegedly sent an email to his home computer containing the private information of 6,300 active Metro Nashville teachers, state officials said.
Steven Hunter emailed the information to a computer that was unencrypted, said Treasury spokesman Blake Fontenay.
“All indications are that he sent the information to his personal email to work on a computer at home,” Tennessee Bureau of Investigation spokeswoman Kristin Helm told Tennessee Watchdog on Wednesday.
“From the forensic analysis of that computer by TBI agents, the information does not appear to have been disseminated. At this time, the TBI’s investigation is still open and will be turned over to the District Attorney General for review when completed to determine how to proceed.”
State officials explicitly trained Hunter not to do that, Fontenay said.
The Treasury first employed Hunter in July, but he resigned last week, Fontenay said.
“Mr. Hunter’s background check came back clean,” Fontenay said.
In an email, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Fabien Levy would not say whether the federal government requires a criminal background check of Obamacare navigators.
“All navigators must complete a minimum of 20 hours of training and comply with privacy and security standards,” Levy said.
“We take any alleged impropriety seriously and take immediate action in cases where navigators have failed to live up to their responsibilities.”
According to DHS guidelines, states are permitted to adopt state-specific standards for navigators.
Tennessee’s Department of Commerce and Insurance registers navigators and certified application counselors and conducts background checks, said TDCI spokeswoman Kate Abernathy.
Seedco spokesman Brian Robinson said in an email his organization performs background checks on its navigators.
As Tennessee Watchdog has previously reported, the federal government awarded Seedco a $1.2 million contract to sign people up for Obamacare in the state.
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