WASHINGTON – Rep. Jim Cooper is denying the FBI is investigating him for allegedly "hacking" into a trade association website, a charge leveled at him Thursday during a contentious hearing on electric utility companies.
During a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, Cooper asked Glenn English — a former Congressman from Oklahoma who now represents the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association — why he couldn't get information about potential financial irregularities by one of its member co-ops.
Cooper admitted some documents he obtained came from the NRECA's "password protected website."
English then said the FBI, as he understood, is investigating Cooper for getting into the cooperative's website to glean more information about them.
Cooper spokesman John Spragens denies the allegation.
"We have no reason to believe the FBI is investigating Jim Cooper," Spragens said. "This is a smear campaign."
Cooper has been looking into alleged financial abuses by the Predernales Electric Cooperative in Texas.
According to The (Nashville) Tennessean, Cooper said executives from Predernales are "evading subpoenas from federal marshals, and Mr. English did not want that to be the headline."
A senior aide with the House Oversight committee told FOX News that Cooper did get into the co-op association's website to download documents. But did so by obtaining the password from someone who was authorized to use the website.
The FBI won't comment on whether it's investigating Cooper.
The Chairman of the Committee, Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., suggested that English was trying to "intimidate the committee."
"We won't be intimidated and we will continue to try to protect the interest of co-op customers by looking into any credible allegations of misconduct by the co-op boards," Waxman said.