Staffers for Senate Republicans’ campaign arm seized information on more than 200,000 donors from the House GOP campaign committee over several months this year by breaking into its computer system, three sources with knowledge of the breach told POLITICO.
The unauthorized raid on the National Republican Congressional Committee’s data created a behind-the-scenes rift with the National Republican Senatorial Committee, according to the sources, who described NRCC officials as furious. It comes at a time when House Republicans are focused on preparing to defend their 24-seat majority in the 2018 midterm elections. And it has spotlighted Senate Republicans’ deep fundraising struggles this year, with the NRSC spending more than it raised for four months in a row.
Multiple NRSC staffers, who previously worked for the NRCC, used old database login information to gain access to House Republicans’ donor lists this year.
The donor list that was breached is among the NRCC’s most valuable assets, containing not only basic contact information like email addresses and phone numbers but personal information that could be used to entice donors to fork over cash — information on top issues and key states of interest to different people, the names of family members, and summaries of past donation history. The list has helped the NRCC raise over $77 million this year to defend the House in 2018.
“The individuals on these lists are guaranteed money,” said a Republican fundraiser. “They will give. These are not your regular D.C. PAC list.”
Asked for comment, NRSC Executive Director Chris Hansen said in a statement: “This is utter nonsense. The NRSC and the NRCC have a close working relationship and at the end of the day, our shared goal is growing our majorities for years to come.”
“Chris Hansen is one of the most trustworthy people I have met in politics. If he says something I am going to believe him,” NRCC Executive Director John Rogers said in an emailed statement. “We meet regularly and share as much information as the law allows. We are both committed to helping each other grow our respective majorities.”
Both committees declined to name the staffers involved or whether they have been disciplined or fired.
Though the House and Senate campaign arms share the similar goal of electing Republican candidates and often coordinate strategy in certain states, they operate on distinct tracks and compete for money from small and large donors.
The NRCC became aware of the hack in October, and it has been the subject of whispers throughout the Republican campaign world in recent days, with one source comparing it, jokingly, to Russian hacking during the 2016 election.
“Everyone steals lists, but the fact that they did this behind the back of the NRCC shows they knew they were doing something wrong,” said the Republican fundraiser. “The people at the NRCC, who found out about this, are really pissed. They’re supposed to be on the same team.”
Donor lists like these are of such value to party committees that they can use them as collateral to obtain loans worth millions of dollars when they need cash just before major elections.
“It’s an asset of great value to a committee,” said Ian Russell, a former deputy executive director of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “And the bank considers it an asset.”
Both the House and Senate committees raise tens of millions of dollars a year to help GOP candidates running for Congress. During the 2016 election cycle, the NRSC spent $134 million and the NRCC spent $161 million.
Republicans’ lack of big-ticket legislative accomplishments this year, coupled with the failure to repeal Obamacare, has created a difficult fundraising environment for the GOP. The NRSC has spent more money than it has raised four months in a row, according to campaign finance reports, leaving it with $14 million on hand and more than $10 million in debt.
The NRCC’s fundraising has continued to climb. The House committee finished last month with $17 million more in its bank account than at this point in any previous election cycle.
Powered by WPeMatico