The Phoenix Flyer

Did Russians hack FL elections? More information may now come to light

By: - April 29, 2019 10:52 am
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Gov. Ron DeSantis says he’ll let the public know whatever he finds out during a scheduled briefing he’s having with the FBI about the Mueller report’s revelation that Russian hackers penetrated at least one Florida county’s computer system during the 2016 elections. The report doesn’t say which county.

“We’re going to make it public,” the governor said during a news conference in Miami last week. “Unless somehow it’s classified, I think the public has a right to know what may have happened. If there’s one county involved, is there something they can do?”

On Friday, the New York Times reported that, in an interview, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio from Florida said that “Russian hackers not only accessed a Florida voting system, but were ‘in a position’ to change voter roll data” but he said it does not appear they acted on it. Rubio is a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee.

“Mr. Rubio said he was constrained as a member of the intelligence committee as to how much he could tell his constituents,” the Times reported.

“‘When someone you know had a problem, but you can’t tell them they had a problem, it becomes tense,’ he said,” the Times reported.

DeSantis said he’s not sure when the FBI will brief him, but he believes it will be this week or next. Special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into alleged collaboration between Donald Trump’s campaign and Russian intelligence service revealed the reported Florida hack. State and local officials denied that it happened.

“It sure would be nice to know is there anything we need to do going forward,” DeSantis said.

Republican U.S. Sen. Rick Scott also will receive a briefing, Politico Florida has reported. Former Sen. Bill Nelson’s claim that Florida’s election had been hacked became an issue in their contested political race last year.

After the Mueller report hit, officials in the state Division of Elections said they asked for details but the FBI wouldn’t share any.

“They wouldn’t tell us which county it was. Are you kidding me? Why would you have not said something immediately?” DeSantis said. “The Russia stuff gets really blown up because it’s used in the political back and forth, but there’s broad threats from cyber across the spectrum.”

“You have people in our country who are hacking. Obviously, foreign hackers – Russians are involved; North Koreans are involved. A lot of bad actors, and it’s not just elections infrastructure. Banking, all these other things.

“That threat is not going away. We need to be protecting against it. But it’s hard for us to protect against it if we’re kept in the dark about where the vulnerabilities are.

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Michael Moline
Michael Moline

Michael Moline has covered politics and the legal system for more than 30 years. He is a former managing editor of the San Francisco Daily Journal and former assistant managing editor of The National Law Journal.