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Florida And DHS Refute Democrat Congressman’s Claim That Russia “Penetrated” Election System

By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge – 08/11/2018

Election officials in South Florida on Thursday refuted a claim made by Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) that Russian hackers had penetrated their voter registration system.

“We have had absolutely no information regarding that,” said Broward County Elections Supervisor Brenda Snipes. “We have not seen anything with our system that something strange is going on.”

State officials also say Nelson’s claim is unfounded.

On Wednesday, Nelson – the ranking member of the cyber subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee said that Russian operatives had penetrated some of Florida’s election systems ahead of this year’s midterms.

“They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times, though he wouldn’t identify which counties were affected – saying it was classified.

“The threat is real and elections officials — at all levels — need to address the vulnerabilities.”

Election officials in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties likewise said they weren’t aware of any breaches.

That said, Florida election officials say they are doing everything they can to monitor for Kremlin hijinks.

Susan Bucher, supervisor of elections for Palm Beach County, said her office has been working diligently to ensure systems are safe on Election Day.

Employees have undergone training, and the county’s system has been repeatedly tested for vulnerabilities. “We are confident we have done as much as we can,” Bucher said.

Snipes said she too has conducted additional training and monitoring in response to the threat. –SunSentinel

Florida counties are receiving $15.5 million to beef up election security before November’s midterms, which Governor Rick Scott’s office says $14.5 million of which has been distributed to date – including $3.7 million which went to Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach counties.

Nearly $2 million will be used to purchase a network monitoring security system that provides automated alerts about threats, the Florida State Department said. SunSentinel

Scott, a Republican who is challenging Nelson’s Senate seat, has demanded that Nelson provide proof of his vague claim over election system penetration.

“Either Bill Nelson knows of crucial information the federal government is withholding from Florida elections officials or he is simply making things up,” Scott said in during a campaign event in Tampa. “Did Nelson illegally release some classified information? Or did he make this charge of Russian penetration up?”

Nelson and Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, wrote a July letter to Florida Secretary of State Ken Detzner, warning election officials that the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence had discovered that “Russia was preparing to undermine confidence in our voting process” and suggested they take advantage of federal resources. The letter claims that in a small number of cases “cyber actors affiliated with the Russian government accessed voter registration databases.”

Nelson suggested that Russians could start eliminating registered voters.

“You can imagine the chaos that would occur on Election Day when the voters get to the polls and they say: ‘I’m sorry, Mr. Smith. I’m sorry, Mr. Jones, you’re not registered.’ That’s exactly what the Russians want to do,” Nelson said.

The Florida Department of State said they have no idea what Nelson is talking about, and has received “zero information” from the Senator or his staff to support the Russian hacking claims.

“Additionally, the department has received no information from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Sen. Nelson’s statement and we have no evidence to support these claims,” the Florida DoS said in a statement obtained by The Associated Press. “If Sen. Nelson has specific information about threats to our elections, he should share it with election officials in Florida.”

Okaloosa Supervisor of Elections Paul Lux, who is president of the state’s association of election supervisors, said 37 of the state’s 67 county election supervisors he received responses from indicated they had received no word of a specific threat or breach to their system.

One issue, he said, is election supervisors are not able to get security clearances that would allow them to receive briefings on classified information. –SunSentinel

“If the federal government has actionable intelligence and we don’t have access to that intelligence you can’t be surprised that we can’t take the actions necessary to respond to those threats,” said Lux.

The Department of Homeland Security also responded to Nelson’s claim – issuing a statement Wednesday evening saying “While we are aware of Senator Nelson’s recent statements, we have not seen any new compromises by Russian actors of election infrastructure. That said, we don’t need to wait for a specific threat to be ready.”

August 12, 2018 Posted by | Deception, Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

The Russians are coming… to hit Florida’s midterms, Democratic senator claims

RT | August 10, 2018

Florida election officials say they have “zero information” about a threat of Russian hacking in the midterm election, after Senator Bill Nelson claimed the Ruskies have already penetrated the election systems of some counties.

Nelson, the lone statewide elected Democrat in Republican-dominated Florida, is facing a tough electoral battle against Governor Rick Scott, who is term-limited and wants to take Nelson’s seat in the US Senate come November. This week the incumbent senator added some spycraft thrills to the race by claiming that the Russians were not only an ever-lurking threat to democracy in the US and Florida, but actually have already penetrated the state election infrastructure.

“They have already penetrated certain counties in the state and they now have free rein to move about,” Nelson told the Tampa Bay Times before a campaign event in Tampa. He made a similar claim a day earlier in Tallahassee but declined to elaborate, stating that the information was classified.

Nelson and Florida’s other senator, Marco Rubio, wrote a letter to the 67 county election supervisors, warning about the cyber-threat to the midterms and advising that security be ramped up. Speaking to the newspaper on Wednesday, Nelson said they penned the letter on request of the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which reportedly said that “the Russians are in their records.”

Rubio raised the same issue in late May in a private meeting with around eight to 10 election officials, but in less defined terms, Hillsborough Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer told the newspaper. When asked which counties were targeted, Rubio “looked around the room and said, ‘I don’t believe it’s anybody here,'” Latimer said. Paul Lux, the president of a statewide election supervisors’ group, said Rubio’s warning was so vague that it was of no practical value.

Nelson said Russian hackers may cause chaos on Election Day by erasing people from the voter rolls. “That’s exactly what the Russians want to do. They want to sow chaos in our democratic institutions.” Senator Nelson, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services’ subcommittee on cybersecurity, previously urged the Pentagon to act on recommendations on cyber-deterrence.

Commenting on Nelson’s latest remarks, Sarah Revell, the spokesperson for the Florida Department of State, said it “received zero information from Senator Nelson or his staff that support his claims”.

“Additionally, the Department has received no information from the US Department of Homeland Security, the Federal Bureau of Investigation or the Florida Department of Law Enforcement that corroborates Senator Nelson’s statement and we have no evidence to support these claims,” she added.

Revell said that if the senator had any specific information about hacking threats, he should share it with state election officials.

Florida’s counties have been spending federal money on improving the cybersecurity of election infrastructure as well as taking advice from federal law enforcement agencies on how to better address the threat. The state’s reluctance to take the $19 million, which was only done in May, was a point of criticism of the governor’s office.

Pinellas County election officials said after Nelson’s assertion they immediately contacted the FBI, Homeland Security and other state and federal agencies in a futile attempt to find out more about it. “Our office has not seen any indication that we have had any penetration by any bad actions,” office spokesman Dustin Chase said.

A number of other large counties, including Pasco, Seminole, Broward, and Miami-Dade, have issued statements saying they are not aware of any breaches.

Meanwhile, the governor’s office sent a letter to the Senate Intelligence Committee, requesting clarification on the situation.

“Let me be clear, this is a very serious charge made in a public setting without any evidence, details or any prior communication to state or local election officials in Florida,” Secretary of State Ken Detzner wrote.

The claim that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election is the cornerstone of the current partisan rift in the country, with some Democrats claiming that candidate Donald Trump somehow colluded with the Kremlin to beat Hillary Clinton. Russia denies that any government-mandated interference took place.

There are no official US documents asserting that, if any meddling did in fact take place, it affected in any way the outcome of the vote. As of January 2018, 52 percent of registered Democrats believe that Russian hackers changed the vote tally, a conspiracy theory that is not backed by any evidence.

August 10, 2018 Posted by | Russophobia | , | Leave a comment

Ecuadorian Fugitives Gave Large Sums of Money to US Politicians

Prensa Latina | March 13, 2014

Washington – Ecuadorian bankers Roberto and William Isaias, current fugitives, donated large sums of money to campaigns of U.S. politicians, the press revealed today.

Reports underline that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating cases that involve Congressional Republican Senator Marco Rubio, Democrat Robert Menendez and Republican Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, among other politicians.

New York’s NBC network says the FBI suspects that Menendez, through phone calls and recommendation letters to the Department of State and other bodies, helped the Ecuadorian brothers establish themselves in the U.S. in exchange for donations to his reelection campaign.

Journalist and blogger Alberto Padilla claims he can confirm that, since they arrived to live in Miami, the Isaias have financed an active lobbying campaign against the Rafael Correa administration in Ecuador and have also aided senators, in exchange for being allowed to remain in the United States.

The Isaias were sentenced in absentia to eight years of imprisonment on April 11, 2012 by the National Court of Justice after a judicial process that lasted 13 years and in which 54 judges participated.

In the Ros-Lehtinen case, the Daily Beast website assured that she recently received money from the former bankers in exchange for help.

The Isaias had donated at least $23,700 USD to Ros-Lehtinen during the 2010, 2012 and 2014 electoral cycles, according to federal contribution campaign registers.

The Isaias also contributed to the campaign funds of Florida’s Senator Bill Nelson, and Congresswoman and also President of the National Democrat Committee Debbie Wasserman-Schultz and Representative Joe Garcia.

March 14, 2014 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment