Though her attorney plans to appeal, Mobile County License Commissioner Kim Hastie was ordered to pay a $5,000 criminal fine for disseminating thousands of private email addresses for a political campaign in 2013.
Though she defeated 17 other unrelated criminal allegations in court over the summer, Hastie was convicted by a jury of her peers for instructing a licence commission employee to place more than 30,000 email addresses from the license commission’s database on an electronic storage device so they could be given to the campaign of Mobile Mayor Sandy Stimpson.
Judge Kristi Dubose emphasized Hastie only committed an “infraction,” which does not require a defendant to know they violated a law or to have intentionally tried to cause harm. But she upheld the maximum fine of $5,000 saying only that “a lot of people’s emails were used.”
Hastie’s attorney, Neil Hanley, asked for a “fair” sentence, noting the people whose emails were collected suffered no monetary loss. However, Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Bordenkircher claimed what Hastie did completely abused the trust of the public.
“It’s the loss of trust within the government itself,” Bordenkircher said. “A public official came out, basically stole people’s email addresses that she’d been entrusted with and then gave it to a political campaign for her own benefit. Then she went on TV and she lied about it.”
Throughout her trial in June, Hastie’s attorneys offered no evidence of testimony to refute her involvement in the email blast, defending the charge instead by pointing to the fact the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) Hastie was convicted of violating never specially mentions emails.
Bordenkircher explained the statute was written prior to the widespread use of private email addresses. A higher court will have the final say, as Hanley said he plans to file an appeal in the next few days.
“We definitely plan to appeal. We feel like we have some really strong issues, and we look forward to pursuing it,” Hanley said. “It’s based on the statute and whether emails are covered, which they are clearly not listed under that statute. They simply did not prove at trial Kim violated this obscure infraction statute.”
Earlier this week Hanley filed a motion asking to delay Hastie’s sentence until her conviction was appealed. However, the judge denied that motion and ordered Hastie to pay the $5,000 fine within the next two weeks. If Hastie wins the appeal, the fine will be returned.
Hastie told the media she had already accrued more than $150,000 in legal expenses defending her federal charges, something she said “she wouldn’t wish on anyone.” Her co-defendant, Deputy License Commissioner Ramona Yeager, was also acquitted of all charges.
Yeager has requested the Mobile County Commission reimburse her $40,000 for her legal expenses because the charges were based on duties she performs during the regular course of her job. The Commission is expected to take that matter up during its next meeting Sept. 28.
When asked if she might also consider asking for reimbursement, Hastie said the county should want to reimburse her.
“I would like to think the county commissioners would want to support me because this is a county office,” Hastie said. “I think it goes without saying that we’ve made a much better office. So, you know, I would like to think they would want to support me.”
In the end, Hastie again blamed her legal troubles over the past year on a political witch hunt, though she gave no indication as to whom would want to target her.
Although Hastie’s appeal will likely cost far more than the $5,000 fine she faces, she said she is more than willing to prolong the process and clear her name as she prepares to assume a new position as Mobile County Revenue Commissioner Oct. 1.
“People asked in the beginning why I didn’t settle. Thank goodness I didn’t,” Hastie said. “I wouldn’t ever do anything intentionally that wasn’t correct. All I’ve ever wanted to do is serve the taxpayers and get ‘10 Minute Tags,’” she said, using her campaign slogan.