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Pa. senator pushed lies in urging DOJ election probe


A daily newsletter by Spotlight PA
Your Postmaster: Colin Deppen
June 17, 2021
Search team, sudden end, incendiary ink, Gerow's bid, pain points, Ridge hospitalized, and a patience-testing restaurant reservation. It's Thursday. 
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A company paid millions to conduct COVID-19 contact tracing for Pennsylvania is asking current and former employees to help it find and secure online documents that may contain private information from thousands of individuals caught up in a data breach, Spotlight PA reports.  

In an email sent Friday, a copy of which was obtained by Spotlight PA, a lawyer for Insight Global asked the current and former employees to contact him if they had any paper or electronic records, internet links and files, or Google Drive documents related to the program.

The request came two days after Spotlight PA revealed that one Google document identifying 66 people — many of them minors, according to the birthdays listed — was still accessible to anyone with a link more than a month after the company said all data had been secured.

THE CONTEXT: In a statement, Insight Global — which was awarded a $23 million contract by the state Department of Health in July 2020 — declined to answer questions about how many documents or links were still active, or how many were shut down since Friday.

"While we are unaware at this time of the misuse of the information involved, we continue to offer free credit monitoring and identity protection services to those who may have been impacted," the statement read.

Both Insight Global, which is based in Atlanta, and the Pennsylvania health department are named in a federal lawsuit filed by an Allegheny County woman who was among those whose personal information was exposed.

The lawsuit, which is seeking class-action status, alleges the company was aware of security weaknesses and failed to act. 

The Wolf administration terminated its contract with Insight Global under pressure last month.
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"I didn’t have a name or anything to go on, so it was like going down a rabbit hole." 

—Cheryl Edwards, who was abandoned inside a pillowcase as a newborn in Philadelphia, on her search for answers about her parents and herself

VACCINE UPDATE: Pennsylvania's acting physician general is optimistic that Pennsylvania can still get 70% of eligible adults fully vaccinated before June 28, but it's an ambitious goal with just 57.8% fully vaccinated now. For vaccine providers, use the federal government's online tool, call 1-800-232-0233, or text your ZIP code to 438829 (GETVAX).
» CONGRESSIONAL REDISTRICTING: Join Spotlight PA for a live interview and reader Q&A with Sen. David Argall at 1 p.m. June 18. RSVP for FREE »
Looking good, Kettle Creek State Park in Clinton County! And thanks for tagging us, @pabucketlist. Now it's your turn. Send us your hidden gems, use the hashtag #PAGems on Instagram, or tag us @spotlightpennsylvania.
DISASTER ZONE: Tuesday's certification of May's election results has brought a formal end to Gov. Tom Wolf's pandemic-era disaster declaration. That's because voters approved Republican-backed constitutional amendments giving lawmakers new power over such edicts, which they wasted no time exercising. Some regulatory waivers remain in effect, and the fight over to-go cocktails carries on, per the Capital-Star.

LETTER WRITER: A letter from Republican state Sen. Doug Mastriano (R., Franklin) rife with false claims about Pennsylvania’s 2020 election has been entered into the record as part of a U.S. House investigation into the causes of the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol siege, WITF reports. The five-page letter is joined by correspondence from other Pennsylvania electeds, each echoing the kind of conspiracy theories that fueled the violence.

NEW ENTRY: Conservative activist and political talk show fixture Charles Gerow is expected to formally announce his Republican bid for Pennsylvania governor in Cumberland County today, per the Associated Press. Gerow has run for office unsuccessfully before. This time, The Inquirer reports, he's promising to bridge the gap between traditional conservatives and the party's insurgent, pro-Trump wing.

MARKUPS: An Axios and Johns Hopkins University analysis looked at data on the top 100 revenue-generating hospitals in the U.S. and dinged UPMC Presbyterian in Pittsburgh for having some of the most inflated prices in the country. In a follow-up, WESA examined the price gouging implications from a consumer perspective and learned reliable data can be hard to find and that maximum costs are sometimes misleading

URGENT CARE: Former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge was in critical but stable condition Wednesday after suffering a stroke at his Maryland home, per WGAL. Ridge was an assistant district attorney in Erie and a member of Congress before winning Pennsylvania governor in 1994. He was head of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush.
HIDDEN BOOKS: After Lycoming County commissioners asked that books celebrating Pride month be removed from a children's library there, residents rallied to voice their concerns. "Libraries are where you're supposed to [...] go if you don't understand something, even if it's about yourself," one person said. The library has no plans to honor the commissioners' request, per ABC27.

SUPPLY AND DEMAND: One of the hardest reservations to get in the country is at Kennett Square's Talula's Table, a market by day and intimate restaurant by night. How hard? A TikToker walks you through it, saying: "The restaurant answers the phone one time in the morning and whoever gets through gets a reservation one year from that date."

SUPER FOOD: The makers of Hot-Chee Dogs at Carlisle's Hamilton Restaurant convinced folklorists from the William G. Pomeroy Foundation that their chili dogs are different from those on menus nationwide. In return, they're getting a sought-after historical marker, as the Carlisle Sentinel explains.

COOL MILLIES: Congratulations to Randy Lytle of Indiana County, a furloughed steelworker who won $3 million on a scratch-off lotto ticket from a Ligonier Giant Eagle. Lytle's first call was to his mom. "She didn't believe me until she saw me. I was white as a ghost," he told WTAE.

EMU HAS LANDED: The search for a two-time runaway emu named Elvis has ended in Perry County with the bird returned to its family after days of sightings and searches. "We can't thank everyone enough for all the help that has been provided to finding him," a caretaker wrote in a GoFundMe update.
Unscramble and send your answer to scrambler@spotlightpa.org. We'll shout out winners here, and one each week will get some Spotlight PA swag.

Yesterday's answer: Zoological

Congrats to our daily winners: Michelle T., Myles M., Craig W., Mike B., Irene R., Bruce T., Patricia M., Doris B., Barbara F., Susan D., David I., Kate P., Bill C., Elaine C., Heidi B., Dennis M., Steve D., Wendy A., Elizabeth W., Brian B., Suzanne S., Michael D., Amy K., Al M., Christine M., Johnny C., Adrien M., Craig E., James B., Diane P., Karen W., Patricia R., Barbara A., George S., Daniel M., Bob R., David W., Cris F., Jill A., Kim C., Mary Ellen T., Bill E., Tish M., Kevin H., Barbara O., Carol D., Rick D., Paul H., Meg M., Joel S., John H., Beth T., Fred O., Ann and John P., and Brandie K.
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