“Joe the Plumber” now on tour for McCain (Update)

This may shock some of you, but “Joe the Plumber” has endorsed Sen. McCain for President. Or wait, no shock there as he’s been in the tank for McCain since day one, he just never told the media who he was voting for. He is now, however, going to be doing a bus tour on behalf of McCain for the next week.

Video report from CBS News:

Report from USAToday:

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — “Joe the Plumber” is endorsing John McCain.

The Ohio plumber, whose real name is Samuel Wurzelbacher, campaigned Tuesday for the Republican presidential candidate in Columbus, the first stop in a day-long bus tour.

Wurzelbacher is a registered Republican but until now had declined to say who he was voting for.

Wurzelbacher said Democrat Barack Obama would make America a socialist nation because Obama wants to redistribute wealth. He said he thinks Obama would target the middle class for tax hikes.

Wurzelbacher became an overnight media sensation after he was referred to constantly in the final presidential debate.

He’s since become the central thematic element in speeches by McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Looks like “Joe” won’t need his plumbing career any longer, looks like he’s now a McCain campaign strategist.

Thoughts on “Joe the Plumber,” will this help or hurt McCain?

Update

The Ohio Inspector General’s office is now investigating illegal access to state databases concerning Joe’s private information, story from the Columbus Dispatch:

Ohio’s inspector general is investigating why a state agency director approved checking the state child-support computer system for information on “Joe the Plumber.”

Helen Jones-Kelly, director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, confirmed today that she OK’d the check on Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher following the Oct. 15 presidential debate.

She said there were no political reasons for the check on the sudden presidential campaign fixture though the Support Enforcement Tracking System.

Amid questions from the media and others about “Joe the Plumber,” Jones-Kelley said she approved a check to determine if he was current on any ordered child-support payments.

Such information was not and cannot be publicly shared, she said. It is unclear if Wurzelbacher is involved in a child-support case. Reports state that he lives alone with a 13-year-old son.

“Our practice is when someone is thrust quickly into the public spotlight, we often take a look” at them, Jones-Kelley said, citing a case where a lottery winner was found to owe past-due child support. “Our practice is to basically look at what is coming our way.”

Ohio Inspector General Thomas P. Charles confirmed today that he is investigating the incident to determine if “Joe”s” records were legally accessed by Job and Family Services employees.

The use of a state computer system to search for information on Wurzelbacher is the fourth uncovered by The Dispatch.

Democrat Gov. Ted Strickland is satisfied that there are no political overtures to the check on Wurzelbacher, a spokesman said.

“Based on what we know to this point, we don’t have any reason to believe the information was improperly accessed or disclosed by a state employee,” said Keith Dailey, Strickland’s press secretary.

The state attorney general’s office said today that information on “Joe” was accessed from a test account it shared with contractors who developed a computer network for the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police.

The State Highway Patrol is investigating the “unauthorized access,” said Jennifer Brindisi, spokeswoman for Attorney General Nancy H. Rogers. Access to the account was given to the unidentified contractors four years ago, she said.

State Highway Patrol records indicate that investigators have a suspect, who is identified as a contractor for the Ohio Department of Insurance. The patrol has seized an agencycomputer as evidence.

Donna Braxton, acting executive director of the Dublin-based police chiefs group, said she had not been notified of an investigation.

At least four state computer checks on Wurzelbacher were conducted shortly after Republican John McCain frequently brought up “Joe the Plumber” during his final presidential debate with Democrat Barack Obama on Oct. 15.

State and local investigators are attempting to determine if the computer systems were illegally accessed when they were used to pull up information on Wurzelbacher.

Republicans have seized on the incidents to suggest that the checks were politically motivated invasions of Wurzelbacher’s privacy and attempts to dig up dirt to discredit the man. Obama’s campaign says it has nothing to do with the incidents and joined Republicans in calling for investigations.

The attorney general’s office was unaware contractors for the police chiefs’ association still had access to state information, Brindisi said. The contractors developed the Ohio Local Law Enforcement Information Sharing Network, which now is operated by the attorney general’s office. Security codes since have been changed and access limited to test accounts, she said.

The Dispatch reported Saturday that authorities are investigating why driver’s license and vehicle registration information on “Joe” was pulled from Bureau of Motor Vehicles computers.

BMV information on Wurzelbacher also was obtained through accounts assigned to the Cuyahoga County Child Support Enforcement Agency and the Toledo Police Department. Both checks are under investigation.

That’s a shame and speaks to a lack of integrity by those officials illegally accessing Joe’s information. Think about that for a second, you ask a question of a candidate and state officials pull your records to find dirt on you.

Whether you like Joe or not, that’s pretty low.