PITTSBURGH (NewsRadio1020 KDKA) - Concerns are on the rise among some Allegheny County Council members about what they believe is a security breach to their personal email system.
They claim documents, emails and private information is being accessed by the County Executive's office. Some council members are calling for a deeper investigation into County Executive Rich Fitzgerald's office for allegedly snooping around in their email.
County Council member Bill Robinson is one of the members calling for an outside investigation and he joined Bill Rehkopf on the KDKA Afternoon News to discuss his concerns.
"There is confirmed information, internal information, that people in the Fitzgerald administration have access or had access to emails, calendars and other confidential information. That is an absolute fact," Robinson said.
Director of Communications for Allegheny County Amie Downs has denied the allegations. But Robinson says that if the County Executive is disputing the claims of himself and his colleagues that he can go through the proper channels and set up a meeting not go through Downs.
"I'm going to ask the President of council and the Vice President of Council to convene a meeting where the Chief Executive and Council Members can discuss with him private information. Ms. Downs is out of bounds," Robinson says.
Robinson says he is unaware and has no knowledge of any attempt from the County Executive or the administration to set up a meeting with members of County Council to try to sort this mess out. He does not feel that the actions to request an outside investigation are excessive and that the intent behind these security breaches is much more than a misunderstanding.
"There is no big misunderstanding. County Council is entitled to conduct it's own internal business to secure its documents and means of communication," said Robinson.
Councilman Robinson blasted Downs in an e-mail to County Council and its staff, warning her to not "start a fire unless you know what will burn." Robinson maintained he was not threatening Downs.
"I meant that there are issues that are to be resolved among elected officials. Ms. Downs is not an elected official and if some elected official is using Ms. Downs to interact with other elected officials I think that is improper," Robinson said.
You can hear the whole interview along with Council Member Robinson's complaints with the way the situation has been handled this far below:
Unrest among County Council
Mike Pintek continued the conversation with County Councilwoman Heather Heidelbaugh, who states that she was not calling for an investigation, but suggesting that someone come and look at their computers.
She explains that she's aware of the policy that allows employers to look through employee e-mails, but she is an elected-official.
"I'm not so certain that this isn't an illegitimate concern. The facts are that an e-mail was sent from council and a response was received from the administration and in which they were not copied," said Heidelbaugh. "So, it was clear that we had evidence that someone had access to the e-mails from the administration."
Heather Heidelbaugh On Email-Gate
After Heidelbaugh made her remarks, Mike Pintek received a call from Rich Fitzgerald's Executive Chief of Staff, Jennifer Liptak.
Liptak is more disappointed that council is challenging her integrity.
"To my understanding there was no, never any access to e-mails. Even when I worked there, I didn't have access to anyone's e-mail," said Liptak. "That would be something that the council members would have to grant on their own."
Jennifer Liptak on Email-Gate
for more features.