The FBI arrested a man linked to former Rep. Katie Hill’s campaign on Friday for allegedly hacking one of Hill’s 2018 primary opponents.
A criminal complaint charges Arthur Jan Dam with staging a series of cyberattacks in the run-up to the primary that crippled the target’s website, including one that occurred just before a debate, depriving the campaign of resources ahead of a loss to Hill.
And it reveals that Dam’s wife worked for Hill’s campaign. Hill went on to unseat then-Rep. Steve Knight but resigned her seat last year amid a House Ethics Committee investigation into alleged relationships with subordinates.
While the FBI does not name the target of the hacks, former Democratic candidate Bryan Caforio said in an interview that “to the best of my knowledge I am” the victim named in charging documents, saying he had been cooperating with federal authorities.
Prosecutors said the FBI has not uncovered evidence that Hill or her staffer had a role in the hacking. Hill said in a statement that she was “surprised and disturbed to see the news of this criminal complaint” and had “no information or knowledge about any of the conduct alleged.”
“These charges do not reflect in any way on the thousands of honest, hard-working staff, volunteers and supporters who worked on my campaign, to whom I owe so much,” Hill continued. “The integrity of our elections is vital to our democratic process. Out of respect for the rule of law and the defendant’s presumption of innocence, I will wait for the legal process to conclude before commenting further.”
But Caforio said it was “very disheartening to see this came from a close campaign associate of Katie Hill.”
“Justifiably, there’s been a lot of anger at the Trump administration for what people see as his unwillingness to stand up to Russian interference in the election, and I think today’s revelation is a reminder that there are bad actors on every side, there are people who are interested in putting their personal gain above everyone else,” Caforio said. “I hope we find out the full extent of who was involved and who knew about it.”
Hill edged Caforio for a general election spot by about 1,500 votes in a four-Democrat field before going on to defeat Knight handily that November. Caforio said recovering from the attacks drained tens of thousands of dollars and deprived the campaign of “desperately needed” fundraising opportunities ahead of the narrow primary defeat.
Briefly seen as a rising star within a new generation of Democratic members, Hill abruptly stepped aside amid allegations of inappropriate relationships and leaks of hacked nude photos (Hill has acknowledged a relationship with a then-campaign staffer but denied doing so with a congressional employee, which would be a violation of House rules).
Her departure has set off a fierce race for the now-vacant swing seat, one of seven California districts that Democrats flipped from Republican control in 2018. The National Republican Campaign Committee wasted no time weighing in on the FBI arrest, questioning in a tweet whether Hill had “intimate knowledge” of the matter.