The FBI notified the Illinois Republican Party in June that some of its email accounts may have been hacked, but party officials were not told that it was part of a wide-ranging federal investigation of Russian activity in the nation’s political system, the state GOP’s executive director said Sunday.
Nick Klitzing said the state GOP on its own found 18 of its emails on the website DCLeaks.com. The New York Times reported the website was an outlet that U.S. intelligence officials and private cybersecurity companies believe was created by a unit controlled by the GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Klitzing said FBI agents raised questions about emails involving the state GOP accounts during their visit. The four email accounts involved were inactive or rarely used, and the hacked emails dated to 2015, long before the 2016 contests for president and Illinois offices, Klitzing said.
A review of the emails provided by the state GOP shows the messages were largely rudimentary in nature, ranging from requests for training and local party event invitations to reports and discussion that U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Wheaton should be considered a “dark horse” candidate to replace House Speaker John Boehner, a contest ultimately won by U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.
The disclosure of the hacked email accounts comes amid reports by the Times and Washington Post that assessments by American intelligence agencies, including the CIA, concluded that Russia acted to influence the 2016 presidential election in favor of Republican President-elect Donald Trump and to hurt Democrat Hillary Clinton’s chances.