Empower Wisconsin | Oct. 29, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — Was the high tech pilfering of a Republican Party of Wisconsin federal account a hit job against President Donald Trump’s hopes of winning the battleground Badger State — and with it the presidential election?
RPW Chairman Andrew Hitt tells Empower Wisconsin the hackers who stole $2.3 million had deep knowledge of the workings of political parties in targeting funds specifically marked for Trump ads and campaign literature.
“The Republican Party of Wisconsin is involved in every congressional race, many legislative races,” Hitt said. “It’s interesting that of all those races we’ve been working on … those hackers pick four vendors that we are only working (with) on behalf of President Trump.”
The stolen funds, of course, couldn’t come at a worse time for the Wisconsin GOP, in the waning days of the campaign — in a state expected to play a critical role deciding the next president. Democratic challenger Joe Biden led Trump by 5 percentage points in the latest Marquette University Law Poll, released this week. There are enough undecided voters to make the difference in a tight election where every vote is being contested.
Hitt said the hackers were “methodical” in going through invoices, spending a “substantial amount of time” digging into the files.
“One of the things I said to the FBI is this hacker has to have some knowledge of political parties and an understanding of political campaigns,” Hitt said. He added that FBI agents told party members that successful hackers on this scale know the ins and outs of the businesses they are targeting.
“There’s a lot of money flowing through the RPW right now. They have to have an understanding to execute this plan in one of the most pivotal battleground states in the country,” the GOP chairman said.
Federal law enforcement agents are not saying whether they believe it’s a domestic crime or if it’s foreign meddling.
“There are a lot of foreign actors interested in this election that want to see the president defeated,” Hitt said. “We know Wisconsin is a pivotal state. Not only do we know it, the whole world knows it.”