Stacey Abrams calls Brian Kemp's last-minute hacking probe a "witch hunt"

Abrams is accusing Kemp of a "witch hunt" after he accused the Democratic Party of hacking voting systems

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 5, 2018 5:15PM (EST)

Stacey Abrams; Brian Kemp  (AP/Photo Montage by Salon)
Stacey Abrams; Brian Kemp (AP/Photo Montage by Salon)

Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor in Georgia, is accusing her Republican opponent of orchestrating a last-minute witch hunt against her party in the state for a problem caused by his own incompetence.

"It's wrong to call it an investigation. It's a witch hunt that was created by someone who is abusing his power," Abrams told CNN's John Berman on "New Day" on Monday. After pointing out that her opponent, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, was the target of a recent federal lawsuit that accused him of failing to secure his state's voting system and thereby making it possible for a massive data breach to occur, Abrams noted that Kemp seems to be trying to spin the issue in a way that blames Democrats rather than admitting to his error and fixing the problem.

"Instead of owning up to it, taking responsibility and seeking a way to fix the flaw, he instead decided to blame Democrats, because he does that," Abrams said. "He doesn't take accountability, he doesn't take responsibility -- what he does instead is find someone else to blame."

She added, "It's a complete and utter fabrication."

On Sunday Kemp's office announced that it was investigating the Georgia Democratic Party for an alleged attempt to hack into the state's voter registration system.

"After a failed attempt to hack the state's voter registration system, the Secretary of State's office opened an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia on the evening of Saturday, November 3, 2018. Federal partners, including the Department of Homeland Security and Federal Bureau of Investigation, were immediately alerted," Kemp's office explained in a statement.

The statement went on quote press secretary Candice Broce as saying, "While we cannot comment on the specifics of an ongoing investigation, I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cyber crimes. We can also confirm that no personal data was breached and our system remains secure." elaborated on the origin of the voting breach issues:

The computer security experts with whom WhoWhatWhy spoke were all baffled by what they found when they reviewed the problem.

“For such an easy and low hanging vulnerability to exist, it gives me zero confidence in the capabilities of the system administrator, software developer, and the data custodian,” Kris Constable, who runs a privacy law and data security consulting firm, told WhoWhatWhy. “They should not be trusted with personally identifiable information again. They have shown incompetence in proper privacy-protecting data custodian capabilities.”

As Secretary of State, Kemp is the data custodian, meaning he is responsible for the security of voter information. The system administrator works for Kemp and the software developer is a private contractor hired by Kemp’s office.

Kemp is also the Republican candidate for governor in Tuesday’s election, where he is locked in a close race with Democrat Stacey Abrams.


Despite expressing outrage over the alleged misconduct of the Democratic Party, Kemp has overseen a massive voter purge during his tenure as Secretary of State.

"Brian Kemp, Georgia’s secretary of state, purged 550,702 Georgians from the voter rolls in 2016 and 2017 — that is, canceled their registrations,. I’m not guessing," Palast told Salon last month. "After much resistance, Kemp turned over the names and addresses of each one of these purged voters in response to a threat of a federal lawsuit (which I filed in federal court in Atlanta and served on Kemp Friday)."

He added, "Of these, we are certain that 340,134 were wrongly removed, with no notice that they were purged. I want to thank Salon for your report, which went viral, letting Georgians know my foundation had listed all the names of the purged at"

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Related Topics ------------------------------------------

2018 Midterm Elections Brian Kemp Georgia Governor's Race Stacey Abrams