Around 4,000 deceased residents’ personal data breach discussed in city council meeting

Around 4,000 deceased residents personal data breach discussed in city council meeting

Editor’s note: The following information is a recap of one section of a public meeting “New Agenda Items: 10-23-06 Fayette County Board of Elections September 29 Meeting, List Maintenance Billing Discussion;” the Trail has linked to the video. 

During an Oct. 19 city council meeting, Peachtree City Council revealed there had been a personal information data breach of deceased local residents. In a recent editorial published in The Citizen, Councilman Clint Holland claimed that the lists of personal information were a matter of public record. 

However, due to the nature of the personal information, the information is considered “vital records.” State statute restricts access to vital record information under Georgia OCGA 31-10-25, OCGA 50-18-70 and OCGA 50-18-72.

At the Oct. 19, 2023 Peachtree City City Council Meeting, Holland and Councilman Mike King were publicly questioned about their involvement in a committee that gained access to dead voter’s personal information including names, dates of birth and death and social security numbers.  

In the meeting, Councilman Phil Prebor played a video recording from the Sept. 29 Fayette County Board of Elections meeting where the Board of Elections discussed “list maintenance,” referring to the voting list. 

In that recording, Vice Chairman Gary Rower explained that an elected official from a municipality had come to them as a member of a committee that would bring them a spreadsheet of hundreds of names they wished to be reviewed. Rower expressed his concern for the personnel hours it would take for their office to review the lists, especially as it was coming from an elected official but not from the municipality itself. 

“I met with some of the city staff in Peachtree City and [the voter rolls are] not a concern of the council or the staff. The individuals that came forward are a private committee that to my knowledge includes a candidate for the Peachtree City Council, two members of the Peachtree City Council and they call themself a committee,” Rowler said at that meeting. 

Following the video, Prebor asked Holland and King questions regarding the “committee” and what their intent was in forming the group. 

Prebor asked Holland and King if there was a committee representing Peachtree City Council to which both Holland and King said no. Prebor immediately referenced an email from Holland that claimed their committee did represent the Peachtree City Council. 

Prebor asked them what the purpose of the committee was and Holland deflected the question onto King stating that King’s original purpose he started with was to clean the voter rolls. King countered Holland by explaining how his home had his daughter on the voter roll for his house although she left for college in 1994 and hadn’t voted in the city since. He said he joined the committee because he did have an interest in cleaning up problems like the one he experienced. 

Holland gave the names of those in the committee: Clint Holland, Mike King, Margaret Ross, Walt Handley, Elaine Kilgore and Suzanne Brown. Brown is a current candidate for City Council Post 2. According to Holland, the group met roughly twice a month at the Republican headquarters in Fayette because Kilgore had access to that space.

There’s two sets of Excel spreadsheets. One has 3,692 names on it with social security numbers and the other one has 4,381 lists of date-of-birth, date-of-death certificates and addresses and names. They correlate with each other. In essence, those two spreadsheets have the complete information for somebody.”

— Robert Curnow, City Manager

According to Prebor, Ross obtained thousands of dead Fayette County resident’s social security numbers, and Holland was on that email list. Holland, again, turned the attention from himself by stating that he wasn’t the only one on that list, to which Prebor told him causes even more of a concern. Prebor has personal interest because one of the social security numbers belongs to Prebor’s late step-son and those numbers reside in Holland’s personal computer. 

City Manager Robert Curnow reviewed the two spreadsheets. 

“So, the information I was sent from staff, there’s two sets of Excel spreadsheets. One has 3,692 names on it with social security numbers and the other one has 4,381 lists of date-of-birth, date-of-death certificates and addresses and names. They correlate with each other. In essence, those two spreadsheets have the complete information for somebody,” Curnow said in that meeting. 

Holland attempted to claim he didn’t have the information but Mayor Kim Learnard countered him because she had the email’s printed that proved he did have the information. 

“Perhaps check your personal emails since that’s where these communications took place,” Learnard said in that meeting.

The emails show that the list the committee was looking for was sent to both Holland and King on Monday, May 15 at 8:45 a.m. on their personal emails according to Learnard. 

“There is no excuse for this. There is no excuse for representing yourself as a city council member and using personal emails and intending to obtain thousands of files of personal data,” Learnard said in that meeting. 

Learnard released a statement that provided a link to residents to see if their families data was compromised. Included in the link was 16 documents showing the communications involved in the breach with emails from both council members Holland and King.  The data files have since been redacted.

According to WSB-TV, Peachtree City officials issued the following statement:

“The City of Peachtree City is aware of the situation. We can confirm that the breach of personal information did not originate from city offices. We are currently reviewing the situation to determine our next steps.”

City Council elections are Tuesday, Nov. 7.


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About the Contributor
Rebekah Bushmire, Editor-in-Chief
Rebekah Bushmire has been on The Trail staff for four years and will be serving as the editor-in-chief for the 2023-2024 school year, as well as the managing editor for the Legend Yearbook, a program she has been a part of for four years. Bushmire worked at City Hall as an intern in the Public Communications Department over the summer. She has been serving as a Student Press Law Center New Voices Georgia Student Leader for two years. She is in Quill and Scroll, the International Honor Society for high school journalists and the NSPA Honor Roll. Bushmire will have served two years as GSPA Student Ambassador come graduation. She has been awarded an All-Georgia Feature Photograph, Superior Social Media Breaking News, Superior Social Media Promotion, Superior Feature/Entertainment Photograph, Superior Portrait Photograph and Superior House Editorials from the GSPA award program. Bushmire is also the co-president for the International Thespian Society, an honor program for high school theatre students along with having been nominated for the Governor's Honors Program in the Theatre category. She has either worked as a tech crew or performed in eight McIntosh shows. In her free time, Bushmire enjoys hanging out with her friends, sleeping or watching a good show. She loves cows and everything cow print. A fun fact is Bushmire hates scary movies and refuses to watch them. Post-graduation, Bushmire plans on staying local for college and working while in school.
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