Both of Hill’s opponents in the 2018 Democratic primary, Jess Phoenix and Bryan Caforio, complained that their websites were disrupted by cyberattacks.
The man responsible for the attacks on Caforio was Arthur Dam, according to a Feb. 19 affidavit by FBI special agent Elliott Weideman.
Dam was arrested on Feb. 21, the Department of Justice (DOJ) stated in a release.
Dam’s wife, Kelsey O’Hara, was fundraising for Hill as her campaign consultant and went on to become a program and research director in Hill’s congressional office in Palmdale, California.
Hill had the blessing of the Democratic establishment. Former President Barack Obama endorsed her, saying she was “running to take the values of her community to Washington.”
She won the Democratic nomination by less than 3,000 votes and went on to beat the Republican incumbent, Steve Knight, with 54 percent of the vote, outspending him more than 3-to-1.
She resigned in November amid an ethics probe after photos were leaked to the media of her having intimate relations with a former campaign staffer. Hill complained of “cyber exploitation” at the time.
As the FBI agent described, Caforio’s campaign website was targeted four times by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack that took it down for a total of about 21 hours, including on April 28, 2018, right before a live television debate between the candidates. The website remained offline for at least the duration of the debate.
DDoS attacks overload a website with bogus traffic in order to shut it down. The agent found that the computer IP addresses linked to the attacks on Caforio were assigned to a single Amazon Web Services (AWS) account registered with the email address “[email protected]”
Dam listed the address as one of the emails on his Apple account and also as his recovery address for his Gmail account. The IP addresses used to access the AWS account were linked to O’Hara’s and Dam’s home address as well as his workplace address.
The agent went as far as to collect Dam’s banking records and the geolocation data and browsing history from his Google account, which further corroborated Dam’s involvement.
“Dam was found to have conducted extensive research on both the Victim and various cyber exploits, malicious toolkits, and cyber attacks, including the same kind of cyber attack used against the Victim,” the agent said.
Hill’s campaign disclosed that Dam made a $500 in-kind contribution in the form of “graphic design and website security consultation.”
“I’m absolutely shocked and saddened to learn today that Katie Hill’s campaign associates hacked my campaign in order to help her advance through the primary,” Caforio told The Epoch Times in a statement. “This should serve as a somber reminder that Russia is not the only threat to our democracy. There are bad actors on all sides who will do anything for their own personal gain, and we need to come together as Americans to defend our country and hold everyone responsible accountable.”
Attempts by The Epoch Times to reach Hill and O’Hara for comment were unsuccessful.
Dam was charged with intentionally damaging and attempting to damage a protected computer.
“Law enforcement at all levels has pledged to ensure the integrity of every election,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said in the DOJ release. “We will not tolerate interference with computer systems associated with candidates or voting. Cases like this demonstrate our commitment to preserving our democratic system.”
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