A quick web search for “Travis Lee Bailey” leads to Amazon.com, where he is described as a book author who, after smuggling “secrets from the United States Strategic Command into Russia … is currently working toward Russian political asylum.”
He still managed to land a job last month at the Utah Department of Technology Services, and says he used it to find and send more sensitive documents to Russia.
“It’s just a gold mine. The security here is an absolute joke. It’s an absolute horrendous joke,” he told The Salt Lake Tribune.
But signs are that he is not really a spy. After all, it would be unusual for a real spy to call a newspaper to talk openly about his work — and get himself fired from his new state job in the process. But that is what Bailey did this week.
He also sent The Tribune some of the documents he says he sent to Russia, and most were merely photos of items on a bulletin board — including notices of minimum wage requirements, and Family Leave Act descriptions. He also sent a manual about emergency evacuation procedures at the state Capitol.
Bailey says he was sending information abroad hoping “to get the attention of Russia” because “I want to become an informant for them.” He said he did that and told the newspaper about it “because it gives me notoriety.”
It also raises the question of how he obtained a job with the department that handles the state’s computer systems.
Stephanie Weteling, spokesman for the department, said Bailey was hired April 16 as an administrative secretary. “He has limited access to information as a secretary,” and nothing particularly sensitive, she said.
After The Tribune called the department on Monday about Bailey’s claims, “he was placed on administrative leave. We are going through the process of terminating him,” Weteling said, adding the action resulted directly from the newspaper’s inquiry.
In contrast, Bailey said he contacted The Tribune because he saw email traffic suggesting the state had discovered what he was doing and was about to fire him. “So I said, ‘You know what? I might as well tell what happened’” — and he contacted the newspaper.
Bailey, who says he is a nonpracticing attorney, said Tuesday that he also freely told state officials when confronted what he had been doing.
Weteling said, “We have passed along his information to the State Bureau of Investigation, and they are currently conducting an investigation. We also have our own security team looking through his computers in an investigation. We should have those results back in a week, if not sooner.”
Weteling said Bailey applied for the job online. After meeting the minimum requirements, she said, he was interviewed twice.
She said the state routinely checks two references provided by an applicant and checks with former employers. He was also fingerprinted and underwent a background check.
“He passed through all of that,” Weteling said.
When asked if the state does some basic web searches of applicants, she said, “I think we did a little bit of that, I’m not sure the extent of that.”
If it was done, it likely missed the Amazon.com listing of a book Bailey wrote titled, “America’s Other War: Terrorizing Colombia.” The online synopsis describes Bailey previously smuggling documents to Russia and seeking asylum there.
As another possible red flag, the name on his personal email address is “moscowamerican.”
Bailey told The Tribune he lived in Russia for four years mainly as an English teacher. He said he smuggled documents to that country previously and had tried to obtain political asylum there. “Russia is incredible for me.”
He said he returned recently because of some family issues, but still has been trying to get the attention of Russia and some contacts he says he has with its spies. “I’ve just been trying to get their attention and become part of their country. It was just dumb luck that I got this job” with the state.
Even though he worked for the state a little over three weeks, he said he spent one of those weeks traveling to Russia. He said that’s “because when I was hired on, I said, ’Oh, you know, I need to go to Russia for a wedding’, which was a lie.”
Weteling confirmed that Bailey had taken a week off from work.
Explaining why he would want to spy, Bailey said, “There’s four types of spies. One of them is ideological. I am ideological.”
He said that at a previous job for the federal government in Washington, D.C., he “spent nearly six years trying to hack the federal security system because I was bored” and says he “got really good” at it. He says he was doing the same with his state job.
“There are so many security holes at the state Capitol, I just started to penetrate the vulnerabilities immediately,” he said.