An Illinois GOP official said Sunday that federal authorities told the state’s Republican Party months before the presidential election that its email accounts may have been hacked, and party officials later found some of its emails on a website reportedly tied to Russia’s military intelligence agency.
Illinois GOP executive director Nick Klitzing told the Chicago Tribune that the FBI had raised concerns with the state party in June about four inactive or rarely used accounts that could’ve been hacked dating back to 2015.
The FBI didn’t disclose to the state party that the possible security breach was part of a larger investigation into alleged Russian activity in the U.S. political system but urged officials to change passwords take other steps to secure their emails accounts.
"We thought it was weird that the FBI was giving IT advice," Klitzing said.
Klitzing said the Illinois GOP found 18 of its emails on the website DCLeaks.com, which has posted more than 200 emails involving Republican activists and state parties. The New York Times reported that U.S. intelligence officials and private security firms believe the site was created by a unit controlled by GRU, Russia’s military intelligence agency.
The Chicago Tribune reviewed the emails provided by the state GOP and reported they dealt with such things as training requests, invitations to party events and a discussion about whether Republican U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam of Illinois should run for speaker of the House.
Trump called the CIA's assessment "ridiculous," and his incoming chief of staff Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, insisted on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the RNC was not hacked.
In June, a cyberattack of the Illinois State Board of Elections involved as many as 90,000 voters, though board officials said no voting files were erased or modified. Still, after that cyberattack and another attempt in Arizona, the FBI issue a "flash alert" to states about alleged attempts to obtain voter registration information.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.