John Podesta (left) and Robbie Mook
By Chris White
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign manager is providing free and discounted cybersecurity services for political candidates ahead of 2020 elections, The Washington Post reported Friday.
Democratic operative Robby Mook founded Defending Digital Campaigns (DDC), a nonprofit providing cybersecurity support for candidates. Mook was one of the chief operatives who instructed Clinton’s campaign to conduct opposition research that ultimately led to the Steele dossier.
DDC is intended to help protect campaigns against phishing, as well as provide them with secure websites and mobile app security, among other services. Matt Rhoades, GOP Utah Sen. Mitt Romney’s 2012 campaign manager, co-founded the venture alongside Mook, the Post noted.
Microsoft and Cloudflare are partnering with DDC. Rock-bottom prices on such forms of security help campaigns devote cash to other areas, Rhoades said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal. “Any dollar that a campaign spends on extra levels of cybersecurity is a dollar they’re not spending on voter contact and getting their candidate elected,” Rhoades said.
The Federal Election Commission approved DDC’s ability to provide services to provide discounted services in 2019. The agency only has three active commissioners on its six-member board, which prevents the election watchdog from meeting the four-member quorum need to enforce law.
Mook’s group is not the only cybersecurity nonprofit with a well-known Democratic operative manning the helm.
Area 1 co-founder Brad Darche worked as a consultant with CrowdStrike, a group responsible for not doing more to prevent Russians from gaining access to Democratic National Committee emails ahead of the 2016 election. Nearly half of the 2020 presidential candidates are reportedly using Area 1’s services.
Darche’s group published a Jan. 14 report suggesting Russian hackers wormed their way inside Ukrainian energy company Burisma in November. Burisma employed Hunter Biden between 2014 and 2019. Former Vice President Joe Biden’s son’s work with Burisma has thrust the Democrat into the heart of an impeachment trial targeting President Donald Trump.
Cyber experts questioned Area 1’s methods after the group suggested in 2018 that China hacked European diplomatic communications, Politico noted in a report on the alleged Russian hacks. Some experts reportedly said the firm demonstrated “a major ethical lapse” when it shared diplomatic documents with reporters.
Mook, for his part, acknowledged in Nov. 4, 2017 being aware of Christopher Steele’s dossier, which opposition research firm Fusion GPS commissioned to investigate Trump’s activities in Russia. Mook was apparently unaware of the details surrounding the dossier.
“What I did know … is that when we started to look into Donald Trump’s business dealings, it was this massive tree of LLCs and shell companies. We were overwhelmed,” Mook told CNN’s Anderson Cooper in 2017.
“We were out of our league on it, frankly,” he said. “And so, I asked our lawyer and I gave him a budget allocation to investigate this, particularly the international aspect.”
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