Two Republican politicians from Louisiana took the initiative and confessed Thursday that their names are on a list of clients for the cheating Web site Ashley Madison. But both were quick to say that while they know what people might be thinking, it wasn’t that, the old “I can explain everything” line.
Louisiana GOP executive director Jason Doré told NOLA.com that an account created under his name and his former personal credit card billing address was used for “opposition research” at his law firm, Doré Jeansonne.
“As the state’s leading opposition research firm, our law office routinely searches public records, online databases and websites of all types to provide clients with comprehensive reports,” Doré said to NOLA.com via text message. “Our utilization of this site was for standard opposition research. Unfortunately, it ended up being a waste of money and time.”
Baton Rouge Metro Councilman Ryan Heck also went for the preemptive strike, admitting on Facebook he “went to Ashley Madison as a joke 5 years ago. Never went back,” he assured his constituents. And why would he need to anyway, he added, with the hashtag “#smokinghotwife.”
A variation of that theme reportedly came from Talab Abu Arar, a Bedouin Arab lawmaker in Israel, whose parliamentary e-mail address was found amid the Ashley Madison data dump.
He had nothing to do with it, he told Israel’s Army Radio. “Someone wanted simply to hurt my good name … it is very annoying.” And besides, like many Bedouin Arabs, he practices polygamy and has no need of Ashley Madison.
“I’m not lacking in women,” he said “with a chuckle,” according to Global News.
And so it was, across the country, across the globe, in the wake of the hack on the Web site for cheaters, which produced a massive leak of names, e-mail addresses and other data purportedly about people who signed up and signed on to AshleyMadison.com, which in turn is now producing a global pry of massive, perhaps unprecedented proportions, and promises of more prying to come by incensed public officials.
The Associated Press reported Thursday that hundreds of U.S. government employees — including some with sensitive jobs in the White House, Congress and law enforcement agencies — used Internet connections in federal offices to access and pay membership fees to the site. Defense Secretary Ash Carter on Thursday confirmed to the AP the Pentagon was looking into the list of people who used military e-mail addresses.
Cities across the U.S. are investigating e-mail addresses disclosed by the hack, USA Today reported. In a chart made from Ashley Madison data, Business Insider reveals each state organized by how many dollars they spent on the site per capita. Alabama is No.1, followed by Colorado and Washington, D.C.
Journalists were hot on the trail.
WREG in Memphis reported finding seven Ashley Madison accounts of City of Memphis employees, “six with the state of Tennessee, one with a Shelby County government domain, one from Germantown and eight from the city of Nashville.”
In California, the Los Angeles Times reported, “email addresses on the list included those for employees of the state departments of Transportation, General Services, Public Health, Corrections and Rehabilitation, Industrial Relations and Water Resources, as well as the state judiciary. No elected officials were on the list of government emails,” it reported.
The office of the governor of Illinois, historically a place being investigated rather than doing the investigating, said it would probe the so-far unconfirmed presence of six state of Illinois e-mail addresses and another from Lake County, reported the Chicago Tribune.
In Cincinnati, City Manager Harry Black was trying to determine if being on Ashley Madison with a city e-mail account was a firing offense. “We will look at our Internet-use policy,” he said, according to USA Today.
Internationally, the story was no different.
The Irish Independent reported that it had found in the dumped data “more than 300 email addresses linked to some of the country’s most prestigious” institutions. At least one member of the Irish parliament, it said, “was seeking legal advice after being informed that he is allegedly listed.”
Probably more in need of advice were those whose e-mail addresses ended in the .sa suffix, for Saudi Arabia, where adultery is punishable by death. France24 reported that the “leak monitoring firm Cyber Angel” counted 1,200 e-mail addresses that suggested that “users were connected to Saudi Arabia.”
And in Sydney, Australia, the AP reported, the host of a morning show asked listeners to call in if they wanted their spouse’s names run through a database of data revealed by the hack. A woman did indeed take the bait, saying her husband had been acting strangely since the Ashley Madison story broke.
“The hosts plugged his details into a website and said they found a match,” reported the AP.
“‘Are you serious? Are you freaking kidding me?’ the woman asked, her voice shaking. ‘These websites are disgusting.’ She then hung up.”