A conservative group has filed a lawsuit on behalf of "Joe the Plumber," accusing three former Ohio officials of violating his privacy and right to free expression when they gathered his personal information in a records search.

The federal lawsuit filed Thursday by Washington-based Judicial Watch says Samuel J. Wurzelbacher suffered emotional distress, harassment and embarrassment as a result of the search. It seeks unspecified punitive damages.

The lawsuit names Helen Jones-Kelley, who resigned in December as director of the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services, and two assistants.

Ohio's inspector general found that Jones-Kelley improperly used state computers to find personal information on Wurzelbacher, a Toledo-area man who rose to fame during the presidential campaign after asking Barack Obama about his tax plan.

No working phone number could be located for Jones-Kelley, who must respond to the lawsuit within 20 days.

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