Skip to main content
Markkula Center for Applied Ethics

Using a Public Resource

Access for candidates to government-created email lists

Hana Callaghan

Assemblyman Jones is much beloved and has been in office for many years. He knows everyone and everyone knows him. He is up for reelection this year and he asks his campaign manager to send out an email invitation to “everyone in the district” to a campaign kickoff barbeque and fundraising event. Fred is the campaign staffer who gets the assignment. He wonders how he is going to get the email addresses for everyone in the District. He ponders this question over beers with his friend Lola who is one of the Assemblyman’s government staffers. After first getting permission from the Assemblyman, Lola offers to help by giving Fred access to the database that contains the email addresses of anyone who has ever emailed the Assemblyman’s government office.   She also gives him the government email addresses of everyone on the government staff.

Is there anything wrong with Lola and Fred's plan?

Hana Callaghan, director of Government Ethics for the Markkula Center for Applied Ethics, wrote this case for her online course, How to Run an Ethical Political Campaign—and Win.

Jan 25, 2016
Government Ethics Stories