Members of the Fairfax County Democratic Committee issued a statement Thursday criticizing Bryan Wolfe, the Republican candidate for sheriff, for sending out a campaign letter to all the patients of his wife's medical practice.
Democrats say patients are concerned that their private information was breached or possibly sold to an outside party to send out the mailers.
In a statement sent to Patch late Thursday night, though, the Wolfe campaign said the mailers were cleared by the ethics officer of the Virginia Board of Medicine and that no patient information was shared with any outside party.
"The Fairfax County Democrats (FCDC) have received calls from concerned and angered residents who are or once were patients of the Kaufman, Sampson and Wolfe Dermatology practice, who received a letter from the practice soliciting support for Bryan Wolfe’s campaign for Sheriff," said local Democratic Party Chairman Cesar del Aguila. "The patients were worried about a potential breach in privacy and unethical use of their patient information for use in political communications."
Democrats questioned whether the letter was a violation of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, or HIPAA, which states that release of a patient’s information for marketing purposes is only permitted when the patient has provided written permission.
Wolfe campaign manager Gerry Gunn said the Democrats' statements are misleading and that not only did the Wolfe campaign consult with an ethics officer from the Virginia Board of Medicine first—who said the mailers were not in violation of any policy, they said—but that the letters were all printed and mailed in-house, and no contact information for any patients was given to any outside party.
"Moreover, the [mailer] includes a disclosure to that effect," Gunn told Patch.
But Democrats insist Wolfe's mailer went a step too far.
"There are enough public sources of information for use in political communications, so there is no reason for a campaign to harvest private patient records,” del Aguila said.
A copy of the letter is included in the photo section of this article.