GOP files complaint against Robertson for code violation

Posted: March 5, 2014 by Jim Miller, Finger Lakes Times

Republicans say Democratic congressional candidate Martha Robertson violated state election codes when, in a fundraising email, she claimed that her website had been hacked.

Robertson is running against incumbent Rep. Tom Reed, R-Corning, in the 23rd Congressional District.

Last week, the Tompkins County Republican Party filed a complaint with the state Board of Elections. It alleges that Robertson violated a section of the Fair Campaign Code that bars candidates from using “political practices involving subversion or undermining of political parties or the electoral process including, but not limited to, the preparation or distribution of any fraudulent … writing.”

The Republicans say a Sept. 30 fundraising email from Robertson falsely claimed that “Republican operatives” were trying to shut down her website. The Republicans also say that Robertson later promised to hire a cyber-security firm to investigate her hacking claim but never did so.

“Robertson attempted to undermine both the Republican Party and the electoral process by soliciting money via an email that included an unsubstantiated and false claim,” Tompkins County Republican Chairman James Drader said in a press release last week. “Robertson’s behavior since sending that email clearly shows that, even if her website had been ‘hacked’ by person or persons unknown, there is absolutely no evidence that any ‘hacking’ was done by Republican Party ops. Quite simply, she sent a fraudulent writing via email in an attempt to solicit money for campaigning purposes.”

The issue has simmered ever since Robertson’s campaign sent the initial fundraising email. Robertson’s campaign says the hacking attempt was real, but Republicans at one point asked the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office to investigate Robertson for wire fraud because of the money her campaign raised after sending the email.

“The bottom line is, Martha Robertson deceived her supporters,” Reed spokeswoman Katherine Pudwill said in a press release Monday. “Claiming ‘GOP ops’ had hacked her website in order to solicit campaign donations raises questions as to whether she committed federal wire fraud. Feeding off the deception, she told the media she would hire a firm to investigate. That was another lie. If she will lie to her own supporters, how can voters trust anything she says?”

The hacking dustup is one of several allegations and counter-allegations that have flown back and forth between Reed and Robertson as the campaign intensifies.

Most recently, Democrats have said it was improper for Reed’s old law firm to continue using his name while Reed was in Congress. That issue dominated the response from Robertson spokeswoman Jordanna Zeigler when she was asked for comment on the Republicans’ complaint about Robertson’s email.

“While the attack on our website was real, this Republican complaint is a desperate smoke screen to distract the public from the problems of Congressman Tom Reed, who appears to have allowed a law firm controlled by his family to use his name and receive profits in clear violation of House ethics rules,” Zeigler said.

Source: Finger Lakes Times