By Trey Blocker
Imagine this: A friend loses your driver’s license and credit card, but doesn’t tell you until a month later.
What would the economic risk be for you and your family?
That’s exactly what happened to hundreds of Texas families due to the failed leadership of Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller.
In late October 2017, a Texas Department of Agriculture employee’s laptop was attacked by ransomware, releasing critical personal information for over 700 Texas students and their families.
The hack resulted in a loss of the most personal of information — names, social security numbers, birth dates, home addresses, and more — for Texas students and their families in almost 40 school districts. For reasons unknown, TDA did not notify the families affected until November 22, 2017 — 32 days after the breach.
Though no organization is immune to cybersecurity attacks, this unnecessary delay in notification shows once again the failed leadership of Sid Miller. This is a matter of trust.
The TDA Commissioner has yet to take responsibility for the incident and his department hardly offered any solution — the security notification passively recommended the families affected by the hack to “contact the three major credit bureaus and activate a free fraud alert on behalf of the students impacted by data breach.” Seeking credit reports would cost thousands of Texans time and money for a problem that TDA caused and refused to address in a timely and transparent manner.
This data breach is yet another example that Sid Miller — and his leadership of the critical TDA — cannot be trusted.
If I was Agriculture Commissioner and a data breach occurs, I will ensure that anyone affected is immediately notified and that assistance is offered from the agency. In this case, I am calling for Commissioner Miller to begin an independent investigation that will find out how this happened, what can be done to make sure it does not happen again, and why the agency outrageously waited 32 days to notify these Texans. That is what leadership looks like.
But honestly, this lapse should surprise few Texans. Controversy has accompanied Sid Miller almost his tenure of TDA Commissioner.
Miller has used taxpayer money for multiple unnecessary personal trips, spurring an investigation by the Texas Rangers and enveloping the TDA under a shadow of controversy and dishonesty. He has been repeatedly assessed fines by the Texas Ethics Commission for campaign finance violations. This list goes on.
Enough is enough.
I’m running to replace Sid Miller as the Republican nominee for TDA Commissioner and stop this madness.
These blatant failures of simple integrity and leadership make it clear that Sid Miller is not up to the job of leading TDA — an agency that needs to be solely focused on promoting, protecting, and preserving agriculture and rural Texas.
Asking our elected officials to be ethical shouldn’t be too much to ask for. Asking our Agriculture Commissioner to act decisively and transparently in a data breach shouldn’t be too much to ask for.
Texans — particularly its members of the agriculture and rural communities, of which the TDA claims to protect — needs a commissioner that can restore integrity to this vital agency.
Trey Blocker is a 6th generation Texan, conservative podcast host of The Trey Blocker Show (treyblockershow.com), and president of the Civil Liberties Defense Foundation (libertydefense.org). CLDF is a nonprofit legal foundation dedicated to defending the inalienable rights guaranteed by the Bill of Rights of the U.S. Constitution and educating the public regarding those rights. Most recently, CLDF is suing sanctuary cities to restore law and order to Texas communities.