A Democratic staffer arrested last week on charges that he revealed the personal information of several Republican Senate Judiciary Committee members was not an "intern" for Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), as originally reported. The 27-year-old career staffer, Jackson Cosko, was, instead, reportedly a "fellow" paid by an "outside institution" who served as a primary adviser in Lee's Congressional office.
According to the Tennessee Star, "[w]hile [Lee] claims Cosko was an 'unpaid intern' in her office, the Washington Post reports that Cosko was actually a 'fellow.' This was confirmed by Cosko’s lawyer, who said his client was a 'fellow' in Jackson-Lee’s office and that he was being paid by an 'outside institution.'"
The "outside institution" has yet to be named, but the position of "fellow" is much different from that of "intern." According to correspondence from Lee's office, Cosko was routinely trusted to advise Lee and communicate with other members of Congress, specifically those co-sponsoring Lee's bills.
As the Tennessee Star points out, that raises questions: "It seems clear Cosko isn’t some unlucky and overzealous intern who got caught being a naughty boy. Rather, it seems Cosko might be a Democratic operative, paid by an outside organization, planted in an unpopular congresswoman’s office possibly so he could engage in exactly the type of behavior that just got him arrested."
Cosko was arrested last week after federal investigators discovered he was responsible for editing a Wikipedia article revealing the personal names, addresses, and phone numbers of several Republican senators, almost immediately after Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) concluded a fiery speech defending then-Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
Fox News reports that Cosko is currently charged with "publishing restricted personal information, threats in interstate communication, unauthorized access of a government computer, identity theft, witness tampering, second degree burglary, and unlawful entry." He may also face charges for a separate threat he allegedly issued to a fellow Congressional aide, threatening to reveal the names, social security numbers, and health information of an unnamed senator's children.