Officials at the National Republican Congressional Committee (NRCC), which campaigns on behalf of House GOP members, said the organization had been hacked during the 2018 midterms. Thousands of emails were stolen by an “unknown entity,” three senior officials told Politico on Tuesday.
“The email accounts of four senior aides at the National Republican Congressional Committee were surveilled for several months, the party officials said. The intrusion was detected in April by an NRCC vendor, who alerted the committee and its cybersecurity contractor. An internal investigation was initiated and the FBI was alerted to the attack, said the officials, who requested anonymity to discuss the incident,” Politico reported.
The media outlet said top House Republicans Paul Ryan (R-WI), Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and Steve Scalise (R-LA) were not informed of the breach until Politico reached out to them about the incident.
One senior party official told Politico said four specific accounts were targeted.
“We don’t want to get into details about what was taken because it’s an ongoing investigation,” the official said. “Let’s say they had access to four active accounts. I think you can draw from that.”
Ian Prior, a spokesman for the NRCC, told the Associated Press the organization was hit with a “cyber intrusion” from an “unknown entity.”
“The cybersecurity of the committee’s data is paramount, and upon learning of the intrusion, the NRCC immediately launched an internal investigation and notified the FBI, which is now investigating the matter,” Prior said. “To protect the integrity of that investigation, the NRCC will offer no further comment on the incident.”
Politico reports that the NRCC paid “hundreds of thousands of dollars” to the Washington law firm Covington and Burling to respond to the hack, along with Mercury Public Affairs. The organization currently believes the hack was from a foreign agent and told Politico that no donor information was compromised.
The NRCC also told Politico that nothing obtained by the hack appeared in public, nor were there any blackmail attempts using the information against senior party officials.
Republicans used hacked information from the Democratic National Committee to their advantage in 2016. The emails were obtained after Hillary Clinton’s campaign chair John Podesta fell for a phishing scam and were posted by Wikileaks. The group had previously published documents that embarrassed Republicans as well. There’s no indication that Wikileaks was behind the 2018 NRCC hack.
After the DNC emails were released in 2016, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) warned Republicans not to celebrate the leaks.
“As our intelligence agencies have said, these leaks are an effort by a foreign government to interfere with our electoral process and I will not indulge it,” Rubio told ABC News at the time. “Further, I want to warn my fellow Republicans who may want to capitalize politically on these leaks: Today it is the Democrats. Tomorrow it could be us.”