Ben Ray Luján, Chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), sent a letter to his Republican counterpart Monday asking that information in leaked documents not be used against Democratic candidates. The letter from Luján reads in part:
The Russians have a long track record of doctoring documents acquired through cyberattacks, and while we cannot confirm their authenticity, their appearance online is certainly a notable concern…
I write with the assumption that you are not aware of the troubling action your Committee undertook last week to take advantage of this Russian cyberattack ahead of this week’s Democratic primary in Florida. In a digital advertisement attacking Mr. Randy Perkins in the 18th Congressional District, your staff used content from documents stolen by the Russian hackers.
I know you to be an honorable person, and this disturbing action by your Committee is genuinely shocking. The NRCC’s use of documents stolen by the Russians plays right into the hands of one of the United States’ most dangerous adversaries. Put simply, if this action continues, the NRCC will be complicit in aiding the Russian government in its effort to influence American elections.
Luján asks that the NRCC forswear any further use of leaked information. The letter concludes, “This is the only appropriate and patriotic way to respond to this Russian attack on our democracy.”
Several points on this. First, you have to love that the DCCC now refers to Russia as “one of the United States’ most dangerous adversaries.” That’s quite a change from where the party was four years ago. I never get tired of this clip:
Second, does anyone think that if the shoe were on the other foot, i.e. if oppo research material on Republicans had been dropped in the lap of Democrats, they would forswear using it as a matter of patriotism? I don’t buy it for a moment.
Third, the DCCC is suggesting that Russia may have doctored the documents. It’s true that Russia probably would do this, however the DCCC has yet to indicate this has actually happened. Politico reports, “The DCCC, however, refuses to say whether the information in the DCCC memo was altered or not, citing an ongoing FBI investigation.”
Which brings me to my fourth and final point. The one instance Luján mentions of this leaked material being used in an ad didn’t involve any secret information about the candidate. From Politico:
The NRCC sparked the debate last week when it aired a digital ad attacking Randy Perkins, a Democrat running in Florida’s 18th District, over his company’s alleged over-charging of a school district for contracted work. Florida press had covered the legal dispute, and the back-and-forth was listed on the hacked DCCC internal memo as potentially problematic for their candidate.
“Even Democratic Party bosses are questioning his character,” the narrator said in the ad, which included a photo of the internal memo.
So that’s the extent of this so far. Republicans mention that a DCCC file pointed to already public information which made the Democratic candidate look bad. You can argue whether or not that’s fair game but it’s not as if this was some deep, dark secret only revealed by the hack.