This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
At least 20 government employees in Utah used their work email addresses to sign up for the spousal-cheating website Ashley Madison, which was the subject of a massive hack that has exposed its 37 million subscribers worldwide.
The Salt Lake Tribune hired an information-technology specialist to dig into the data that span seven years, with a focus on email addresses from government domains such as utah.gov, slcgov.com and slco.org.
The review found at least nine state employees used their work email on the site, the slogan of which is "Life is short. Have an affair." They included employees at the departments of transportation, human services and natural resources.
One Utah courts official signed up, as did an employee at the Salt Lake County Health Department, two Salt Lake City Fire Department employees and two police officers: one in Salt Lake City and another in Bountiful.
The Tribune could not identify every government employee by email address alone, and some that it did identify have since retired. None was an elected official.
The Tribune decided not to name any Ashley Madison subscribers because they are not accused of a crime, though they likely violated government policy and could be subject to disciplinary action.
"Basically, state employees should not be using their state emails to conduct personal business," said Stephanie Weteling, spokeswoman for Utah's Department of Technology Services.
Weteling pointed to a rule her supervisors say applies in this specific case, which in part says: "While using state provided IT resources, an employee may not view, transmit, retrieve, save, print or solicit sexually oriented messages."
Jon Cox, spokesman for Gov. Gary Herbert, said state agencies earlier this week were notified that employees may have used state resources to access the site.
"Potential disciplinary action will be administered by the appropriate agency," he said Friday.
There are 84 accounts tied to email addresses at the University of Utah, 51 from Utah State University and 43 from Weber State University, though those domains are used by everyone from administrators to students and alumni.
In contrast, The Tribune found only one at LDS Church-owned Brigham Young University and none connected to lds.org email addresses, used by employees of the Utah-based Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints throughout the world.
"If you go to church regularly, you are less likely to try adultery," said Nick Wolfinger, a professor of family and consumer studies at the University of Utah, who studies marriages and divorce.
One former Salt Lake Tribune employee used work email to create an account.
The Associated Press identified hundreds of federal government employees, including people who work for the White House, Congress and law-enforcement agencies, who used government Internet connections to access Ashley Madison. A far smaller number of federal employees signed up with their work email.
"The most stunning thing about the Ashley Madison hack," Wolfinger said, "is that people used their work emails."
He believes the public shouldn't read too much into this hack.
"People love to read about things like Ashley Madison because it is titillating," he said. "But it distorts our understanding of how happily married most Americans are."
And how much they say they disapprove of adultery.
A national Gallup poll in 2013 found that only 6 percent of respondents believed it was morally acceptable to cheat on your spouse. More than twice as many found polygamy and human cloning acceptable.
Multiple online news sources tracked Ashley Madison users by state.
Fusion compared unique paying users divided by the number of adults in each state, finding that 0.66 percent of Utah adults have accounts on the cheating website. Only seven states had a higher rate, the top being 0.82 percent in New Jersey. West Virginia came in last at 0.28 percent.
Mic.com focused only on the most recent data, from June 2015, and found that Utah had a rate of 1.7 Ashley Madison users per 10,000 residents. Fifteen states had higher rates and six other states matched Utah's number.
Mic.com found only 346 people in Utah with active accounts.