Local Republican Leader Asks for Federal Investigation into Robertson E-Mail

TIOGA COUNTY, N.Y. (WETM-TV) – A Republican County Chairman is calling for a federal investigation into claims made by Congressional candidate Martha Robertson’s campaign saying her website was hacked in late September. This continues the back and forth between the campaigns regarding the e-mail at the end of a critical fundraising period.

The Chairman of the Tioga County (N.Y.) Republican Committee, Don Leonard, sent letters to the FBI in Buffalo and the U.S. Attorney’s Office of Western New York asking them to investigate whether the e-mail claiming “GOP ops” hacked the Robertson campaign website violated a section of the U.S. Code pertaining to wire fraud.

That section, which is Title 18, Part I, Chapter 63, Section 1343, says in part, “Whoever, having devised or intending to devise any scheme or artifice to defraud, or for obtaining money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses, representations, or promises, transmits or causes to be transmitted by means of wire, radio, or television communication in interstate or foreign commerce, any writings, signs, signals, pictures, or sounds for the purpose of executing such scheme or artifice, shall be fined under this title or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

In a statement following those letters being sent, Leonard said in part, “I join the list of people calling on Martha Robertson to explain why she is wrongly accusing Republicans of illegal acts and I am calling on law enforcement to ask her the same question.”

WETM 18 News has been shown proof from the Robertson campaign late last week that there were at least nine hacking attempts on their website early in the afternoon on September 30th. However, the campaign did say that they don’t know who tried to hack the site, aside from the face it was from a computer within the United States.

In a statement on the letters today, Tom Reed’s campaign manager Seth Wimer said, “Martha Robertson needs to return the money she raised through this deception and apologize to her supporters and the voters."

Also in response to the letters, Robertson’s campaign manager George Koutsos said, “The only thing Congressman Tom Reed and his right wing allies should be focused on right now is averting the looming economic catastrophe his Congress has caused over the debt ceiling and ending the reckless shutdown he and the Tea Party have forced on New York.  The sad fact is, Congressman Reed will do anything to distract voters from the fact that he failed to pay his property taxes on time."

Both letters sent to the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with Leonard’s full statement on sending the letters, are attached to this article.

UPDATE: According to FEC filings, the Martha Robertson campaign raised $34,910 on September 30th. The FEC filings do not include the time those donations were made, only the date, so it is impossible to tell how much of that money was donated after the campaign sent the e-mail.

Seth Wimer of Congressman Reed's campaign said during a phone interview Thursday, "[Robertson] needs to return that money to the donors that she misled to convince them to give her those contributions. Any money that was raised through deception is not money she should be allowed to keep."

WETM spoke with the FBI in Buffalo and the U.S. Attorney's Office of Western New York Thursday. The FBI said that they have not yet received the letter sent by Don Leonard, and the U.S. Attorney's Office said that they do not have any investigation going on at the moment involving Martha Robertson.

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