Report: Democratic opponent of "Putin's favorite congressman" hacked

Dr. Hans Kierstead, who waged a campaign against GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, was targeted by cyber attacks

By Matthew Chapman
Published August 16, 2018 12:04PM (EDT)
Dana Rohrabacher   (AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)
Dana Rohrabacher (AP/Lauren Victoria Burke)

This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

A new report from Rolling Stone reveals that Dr. Hans Kierstead, a former candidate in the race for California's 48th Congressional District, was targeted repeatedly by cyberattacks — in a district that is home to the most infamously pro-Putin Congressman in America.

Currently, it is unknown who is behind the attacks. But FBI officials in California and Washington, D.C. are reportedly investigating, and according to Rolling Stone, the campaign is now going public about the incidents:

Kyle Quinn-Quesada, who was Keirstead’s campaign manager, tells Rolling Stone that the campaign is now going public about the attacks for the sake of voter awareness. “It is clear from speaking with campaign professionals around the country that the sustained attacks the Keirstead for Congress campaign faced were not unique but have become the new normal for political campaigns in 2018,” Quinn-Quesada says. He added that the Keirstead campaign did not believe the cyberattacks had an effect on the primary election results.

Kierstead, a stem-cell scientist who runs a biomedical research company, was a prominent candidate in California's "top two" primary earlier this year. He narrowly lost to Harley Rouda, a philanthropist and attorney, and subsequently endorsed him. Rouda will face off in the general election against 30-year GOP Rep. Dana Rohrabacher.

Rohrabacher, a staunch ally of President Donald Trump, is famously friendly to Russia and to the interests of Vladimir Putin, and has been nicknamed "Putin's favorite congressman." He has pleaded for leniency for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has well-documented ties to Russia. He has even been accused of violating U.S. sanctions against Russia.

His Moscow sympathies are so great that even House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy once joked that Rohrabacher is one of only two people Putin pays, the other being Trump.

The American people deserve answers, now more than ever, about any threat to cybersecurity that impacts our elections.

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