Cyberhackers reportedly walked off with $2.3 million of the Wisconsin GOP’s money at perhaps the worst possible time as Election Day is just around the corner. The FBI has launched an investigation into the theft — which occurred on the night of October 22 — that the Republicans claim won’t hinder the presidential campaign in the all-important Badger State.
In a statement, Wisconsin GOP Chairman Andrew Hitt explained what happened.
“Cybercriminals, using a sophisticated phishing attack, stole funds intended for the reelection of President Trump, altered invoices, and committed wire fraud. These criminals exhibited a level of familiarity with state party operations at the end of the campaign to commit this crime. While a large sum of money was stolen, our operation is running at full capacity with all the resources deployed to ensure President Donald J. Trump carries Wisconsin on November 3rd.”
Hitt conceded, however that “there’s no doubt RPW [Republican Party Wisconsin] is now at a disadvantage with that money being gone” after the hackers targeted Trump-campaign vendors. The FBI is investigating the situation, according to Hitt.
Apart from the huge amount of funds that were stolen reportedly with the use of doctored invoices, the organization claims that the phishing scheme did not access any sensitive information such as strategy documents, donor details, or voter info. “Invoices were altered so when the party paid [the actual vendors], the money went to the hackers instead of the vendors.”
Hitt separately told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that “Obviously, the hackers were extremely skilled and knowledgeable. They came into one of the most vital battleground states at the perfect time when resources are being spent.”
The Republic National Committee is providing assistance to the victimized state party in the aftermath of this scam. “The RNC never left Wisconsin after 2016, and we are confident that our ground game and the millions we are spending on TV and digital will deliver us another win there in 2020,” a GOP spokesman claimed.
The Democrats already have a much larger war chest in Wisconsin than the Republicans. Over the past two years, Wisconsin Democrats have reportedly raised nearly $60 million as compared to the GOP’s haul of approximately $24 million. Thus, the party lost about 10 percent of its cash in the theft. Who knows — provided it complied with federal election law, President Trump could theoretically write a check from his personal bank account to cover the shortfall.
Supreme Court delivers GOP big win in Wisconsin, rejects mail-in ballot deadline extension https://t.co/xQ56h7TJV9
— Conservative News (@BIZPACReview) October 27, 2020
Candidate Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016, and the key swing state, where early voting is underway, is definitely in play for 2020. The president is headed there for a campaign event on Friday as he continues to barnstorm across the county in one high-energy rally after another. In a rare excursion from his basement, Joe Biden is also headed to the state on Friday.
The law enforcement investigation into the theft of campaign funds in Wisconsin ultimately may or may not reveal whether the hack had a political motivation or was just carried out by shrewd pilferers who spotted a cybersecurity vulnerability to exploit.
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