Photo: AP

If you were under any impression that the 2018 election would proceed without at least one hacking controversy, I’m sorry that I’m about to ruin your night.

According to a CNN report, a lawyer for the U.S. Senate campaign of Tennessee U.S. Senate candidate Phil Bredesen sent a letter to the FBI’s Memphis field office last month expressing concerns that the campaign was hacked. In the letter dated February 28, campaign counsel Robert Cooper told the FBI that it had “received multiple emails that appeared to be from the campaign’s media buyer,” which contained information about a TV airtime the campaign was planning on purchasing, and “urged the campaign to wire funds to an international bank account.”

After the phishing attempt, Bredesen’s campaign hired a cybersecurity team, which according to CNN “identified international email hacks originating from the U.K., Nigeria and Ghana” that “directed the campaign to wire money to a bank account based in Dubai.”

No funds were actually sent to any princes, but Cooper wrote that because the phishers knew a media buy was about to happen, the campaign is “concerned that there has been an unauthorized intrusion into the extended campaign organization.” (The FBI declined to comment for CNN’s story.)

In March 2016, the email of Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta was phished by a hacker group known as Fancy Bear that is alleged to have ties to the Russian government. That October and November — immediately prior to the presidential election — the emails, which went back ten years, were published by WikiLeaks. (So far, nothing reported on the Bredesen attempt indicates that this attempt came from Russia.)


Bredesen, 74, is a former governor of Tennessee and mayor of Nashville, and is the last Democrat to serve as the state’s chief executive. His entry into the race to succeed retiring Republican Sen. Bob Corker is seen by Democrats as crucial to their longshot hopes of taking back the Senate in November.

CNN says that Bredesen sent an email to his campaign today informing them of the attempt. “Unfortunately, this email is part of an (sic) cyber intrusion into my extended campaign organization, including an unsuccessful attempt to divert campaign funds to offshore accounts,” he wrote. “I’m sorry for the inconvenience; this sort of thing is rapidly becoming one of the unpleasant facts of life.”