A roundup of state government and Capitol news items of interest for Friday:
DHS DATA BREACH: Officials with the Iowa Department of Human Services say the state agency was the target of a phishing email campaign last August that resulted in nine DHS employees providing their passwords which gave the hackers access to their email accounts. The hackers were able to mask their identities and send very carefully designed phishing emails to employees to appear like they were sent from another trusted DHS employee, according to the department. The campaign was discovered the same day the phishing email was sent, and DHS employees changed their passwords to block access to their email accounts and to minimize the potential for confidential information to be exposed, the department said in a news release, however the hackers potentially accessed Protected Health Information for 820 individuals during the timeframe before passwords were changed. At this time, DHS officials say the agency does not have any evidence to indicate the hackers actually accessed any of the exposed emails. All individuals potentially affected are being notified by mail. Although the chance that these individual’s personal information will be misused is small, DHS officials say they will provide up to a year of credit monitoring through TransUnion Interactive at no charge to all those affected.
PRISON REMAIN ON LOCKDOWN: Officials at the Iowa State Penitentiary on Friday said the Fort Madison prison continues in lockdown/restricted movement status with no plans to alter the status at this time. The staff member from Wednesday’s assault has been released from University Hospitals and is at home recovering, according to a prison spokeswoman. The investigation into the matter continues, prison officials said, and so far there are no indications that the incident that occurred on Saturday is related to Wednesday’s assault. However, both offenders have ties to groups affiliated with White Supremacy. A prison news release said institution officials are conducting thorough searches of all areas of the facility as well as plans are being drafted for modifications to Housing Unit One where Wednesday’s assault occurred. Staffing plans are also being evaluated. Also, visits to the penitentiary continue to be suspended and the offenders are unable to access the phone system at this time, prison officials said Friday.
COURT COMING TO CEDAR FALLS: Officials with the Iowa Supreme Court announced Friday the justices will travel to Cedar Falls on Thursday, Nov. 2, to hear oral arguments in case brought to them on appeal. The proceedings are part of an effort by the Judicial Branch to better help the public understand the court process by having the justices convene in venues outside of Des Moines. Attorneys will make oral arguments before the high court at 7 p.m. in the Cedar Falls High School auditorium in the case of the State of Iowa vs. Jason Gene Weitzel, which originated in Floyd County District Court and was reviewed by the Iowa Court of Appeals. The defendant appealed the district court's judgment and sentence based on his guilty plea to charges of domestic abuse assault, possession of methamphetamine, carrying weapons, and operating while intoxicated. The Iowa Court of Appeals vacated the convictions finding that the district court did not adequately advise defendant of 35 percent criminal surcharge penalties applicable to each offense. The Iowa Supreme Court has granted the state's request for further review of the court of appeals decision. A public reception with the Supreme Court justices will follow the oral arguments.
NEW WWII PACIFIC THEATER EXHIBIT: Officials with the Iowa Gold Star Military Museum, 7105 NW 70th Ave., Camp Dodge in Johnston will host a public ribbon-cutting ceremony dedicating its new World War II Pacific Theater exhibit on Nov. 10 at 3 p.m. Visitors to the exhibit will encounter sights, sounds, and artifacts interpreting the service of Iowans in the Pacific Theater. The American Volunteer Group “Flying Tiger” display contains artifacts, photographs, newsreel footage, and documents telling the story of Iowa pilots and ground crewmembers serving in China prior to the U.S. entry into World War II. Suspended overhead is a full-scale replica of a Curtiss P-40B Warhawk painted in the markings of an aircraft flown by AVG Flight Leader Bill Reed of Marion, Iowa, one of Iowa’s most decorated WWII pilots, who was killed in action on December 19, 1944 near Hankow, China. A three-dimensional, full-scale diorama with 40-foot mural depicts the participation of Iowa Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines in the Pacific invasion campaign, with invasion troops departing landing craft onto the beach. The exhibit also contains numerous U.S. and Japanese weapons, accoutrements, and artifacts acquired by Iowa veterans during the World War II Pacific campaign. More than 262,000 Iowans served in the U.S. armed forces during WWII, including 8,398 Iowans who died during the war from battle wounds, injuries, and illness. This exhibit was made possible by donations from Bill Knapp and Henry Tippie, both Iowa natives and WWII veterans, and the family of Lt. Col. William N. Reed, who provided their extensive collection of American Volunteer Group artifacts.
— Times Bureau