- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 27, 2019

Florida incurred an election-related security breach in 2016 that could have resulted in voter data being altered, Sen. Marco Rubio said Friday.

Mr. Rubio, Florida Republican, discussed the incident in the wake of special counsel Robert Mueller revealing that the FBI believes “the network of at least one Florida county government” was compromised during the course of a Russian state-sponsored hacking campaign waged during the race.

Hackers were “in a position” to change voter roll data but apparently did not, Mr. Rubio told The New York Times.

A member of the Senate intelligence committee, Mr. Rubio corroborated the special counsel’s assessment amid confusion caused by some of his colleagues only learning about the breach from Mr. Mueller’s redacted report released last Thursday.

Florida state election officials have denied knowing about any hack, and fellow Republicans including Gov. Rick DeSantis and Sen. Rick Scott said Thursday that they expected to be briefed by the FBI within weeks.

“Everybody has been told what it is they need to do to protect themselves from the intrusion,” Mr. Rubio said, The Times reported.

“I don’t believe the specific victims of the intrusion have been notified,” Mr. Rubio continued. “The concern was that in a number of counties across the country, there are a couple of people with the attitude of: ‘We’ve got this; we don’t need your help. We don’t think we need to do what you are telling us we need to do.’ “

Russia attacked the 2016 race in a “sweeping and systematic fashion,” the special counsel’s investigation concluded, including by using state-sponsored computer hackers to penetrate U.S. computer systems prior to President Trump’s election over former Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.

The FBI has assessed that Russia’s military intelligence agency, the GRU, successfully compromised at least one Florida county by conducting a “spear-phishing” campaign that involved emailing malware to election officials while posing as a voting equipment vendor, according to the special counsel’s report.

Mr. Mueller’s office did not independently investigate the claim, and the FBI has declined to comment on the finding.

The Senate intelligence committee reported last May that hackers were able to gain unauthorized access to election infrastructure “in a small number of states” in 2016 but did not appear to have manipulated any data.

Mr. Rubio and Bill Nelson, a Democrat who served in the Senate for nearly two decades prior to being defeated in last year’s midterms by Mr. Scott, the state’s former governor, sent a letter the following month urging Florida election officials “in the strongest terms” to secure their voting infrastructure, The Times reported.

“The Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman and Vice Chairman asked Senator Rubio and me in June 2018 to send a letter to the 67 county Supervisors of Election to warn them of Russian intrusion in Florida,” Mr. Nelson said in a statement, The Times reported Friday. “The Mueller Report makes clear why we had to take that important step as well as my verbal warnings thereafter.”

Mr. Scott mocked Mr. Nelson during the 2018 race for accusing Russia of hacking Florida and said the Democrat was “terribly confused.” This week he called the finding contained in Mr. Mueller’s report “a very serious issue that needs the immediate attention of the FBI.”

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