The Georgia taxpayer cost for Brian Kemp’s data breach is starting to mount

Secretary of State Brian Kemp. AJC file

Secretary of State Brian Kemp. AJC file

The public cost for the gaffe that involved more than 6 million voters’ confidential information is starting to mount.

For the last month, Secretary of State Brian Kemp’s office has relied on his office’s existing budget and reserves to foot the bill for the state’s response to the data breach. That includes the $395,000 tab for the independent audit into Kemp’s handling of the breach and an estimated $1.2 million for credit monitoring for voters who sign up.

That budget, though, will soon be strained with a new cost. As our AJC colleague Kristina Torres noted, Gov. Nathan Deal signed an executive order Monday assigning a trio of outside attorneys to represent Kemp in the civil lawsuit targeting the breach.

Deal penned the order after Attorney General Sam Olens cited a potential conflict of interest in representing Kemp’s office. Olens, a potential rival of Kemp in the 2018 governor’s race, said through a spokesman that he was concerned about potential conflicts “arising from our office’s new consumer protection responsibilities.”

Kemp’s office indicated it would also pick up the bill for the trio of Troutman Sanders attorneys from its internal budget. But the tab could be costly – we’re told the attorneys are likely to bill around $225 an hour.

State Rep. Scott Holcomb, an Atlanta Democrat who is one of his party’s fiercest critics of Kemp’s handling of the disclosure, said he’s suspicious of Olens’ decision.

“Is he doing it for a political or legal reason? There needs to be a better explanation as to why the Attorney General won’t defend Secretary Kemp,” said Holcomb. “It’s also troubling to watch these so-called fiscal conservatives quickly pile-on costs at taxpayer expense.”

Read Torres’ story about the breach here and check out her interview with the former Kemp employee blamed for the mishap here.


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