Russian hackers are gaining access to emails and other information belonging to progressive groups and then sifting it for embarrassing information. As many as a dozen groups have been blackmailed with demands for thousands of dollars in bitcoins. Some have even agreed to pay in the hopes the hacked information won’t be released. From Bloomberg:

In one case, a non-profit group and a prominent liberal donor discussed how to use grant money to cover some costs for anti-Trump protesters. The identities were not disclosed, and it’s unclear if the protesters were paid.

At least some groups have paid the ransoms even though there is little guarantee the documents won’t be made public anyway. Demands have ranged from about $30,000 to $150,000, payable in untraceable bitcoins, according to one of the people familiar with the probe…

The Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank with strong links to both the Clinton and Obama administrations, and Arabella Advisors, which guides liberal donors who want to invest in progressive causes, have been asked to pay ransoms, according to people familiar with the probes.

After the story was published, a spokesperson for The Center for American Progress told Bloomberg, “CAP has no evidence we have been hacked, no knowledge of it and no reason to believe it to be true. CAP has never been subject to ransom.” But the other group mentioned in that paragraph above, Arabella Advisors, revealed it was the target of a financially motivated cyber crime.

With Democrats in Washington, D.C. heavily invested in the idea that the Trump campaign colluded with Russia to steal the election from Hillary Clinton, the latest hacking is said to be setting off “alarms” that this is a further attempt to impact the U.S. political system. That could be but the demand for money seems to offer a clear alternative explanation.

It would certainly be interesting to know which progressive groups were targeted and which ones agreed to pay. It can’t be encouraging to their donors to learn that some of their money is actually going to the Russian hackers they already believe stole the election.