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FBI arrests Katie Hill associate over cyberattack on opponent

Former Rep. Hill says she is 'surprised and disturbed' by news

Democrat Bryan Caforio, a 2018 candidate in California's 25th District, was the victim of a cyber attack that crashed his campaign website. New criminal charges accuse a man connected to former Rep. Katie Hill, who beat Caforio in the 2018 primary.
Democrat Bryan Caforio, a 2018 candidate in California's 25th District, was the victim of a cyber attack that crashed his campaign website. New criminal charges accuse a man connected to former Rep. Katie Hill, who beat Caforio in the 2018 primary. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Former Rep. Katie Hill said she was “surprised and disturbed” after the husband of her 2018 fundraising consultant was arrested by the FBI and accused of coordinating an effort to crash the website of her Democratic primary opponent.

Arthur Dam, the husband of fundraising consultant Kelsey O’Hara, was charged with intentionally damaging and attempting to damage a protected computer. The news was first reported by the Intercept.

The campaign website of Hill’s opponent, Bryan Caforio, crashed for the first time on April 20, 2018. It crashed again on April 21, April 28 and May 29, according to the criminal complaint. The April 28 hack occurred the day of a debate between Hill and Caforio and the May 29 incident took place just days before Hill beat Caforio in the June 5 primary, 24,507 to 21,821.

“Like everyone else, I was surprised and disturbed to see the news of this criminal complaint,” Hill said in a statement that defended the other staff, volunteers and supporters who worked on her campaign. She said she had no information or knowledge of the conduct and would not comment further “out of respect for the rule of law and the defendant’s presumption of innocence.”

Sources close to Caforio’s campaign said they reached out to the FBI shortly after the first attack. The “denial of service” attacks meant voters were unable to donate, learn about Caforio or volunteer to work on the campaign.

“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 said in a statement. “This should serve as a somber reminder that Russia is not the only threat to our democracy.”

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Hill resigned effective Nov. 3, shortly after reports that she and her now-estranged husband had an affair with a female campaign aide, as well as allegations that she had an affair with an aide on her House staff, which would be a violation of ethics rules.

The House Ethics Committee opened an investigation into Hill. Hill admitted an affair with the campaign aide but denied one with the House staffer. The Ethics panel typically drops cases after members leave office.

Hill on Thursday afternoon announced a new initaitive, dubbed “HER time,” that would help elect women from diverse backgrounds.

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