From Carolina Journal:
RALEIGH — Since as early as January 2011, and perhaps before then, Gov. Bev Perdue’s press office has received access to confidential employment data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics hours if not days before its scheduled release, quite likely in violation of federal law. The governor’s staff used its early access to massage the monthly employment press release that reported jobs data to the public.
Documents and correspondence obtained by Carolina Journal show that the Division of Employment Security, formerly known as the Employment Security Commission, sent a draft of the press release each month to Perdue’s press office. The governor’s spokesmen typically rewrote the text and added a positive spin, even if the data did not support Perdue’s talking points.
The glowing quotes were attributed to Lynn Holmes, director of the employment agency, but the documents show the quotes were approved and probably written by a Perdue press aide, either Chrissy Pearson or Mark Johnson.
In several instances, DES spokesman Larry Parker cautioned Pearson or Johnson against using extraneous or unverifiable information in a release to boost Perdue’s image. At times, the Perdue communications team would push back, and the release would undergo several revisions before final publication.
While the operation may sound like a harmless effort to add political spin to the release of jobs data, sharing confidential BLS estimates while they are protected by an embargo violates a federal law barring the early release of employment data. This is no small matter: A conviction for breaching the Confidential Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002 carries a fine of up to $250,000, up to five years in prison, or both.
The data, including monthly estimates for current job totals, the labor force, and the unemployment rate, are produced by BLS with some minor assistance from the Labor Market Information Division of DES.
Read more here.