State elections chief denies NSA report of California hack

Who will Californians believe: Secretary of State Alex Padilla or the National Security Agency?

That’s one way to boil down a flap that’s emerged this week over the sanctity of California’s 2016 elections.

Beginning shortly after November’s election, Padilla has pushed back hard at any claims of voting irregularities in the nation’s largest state. The former Democratic state senator representing part of Los Angeles – elected in 2014 to be the state’s chief elections officer – was most irked with President-elect Donald Trump’s claims that he would have won the popular vote if not for massive voter fraud in California and other states. On Jan. 25, soon after taking office, Trump repeated his claims and again specifically alleged problems in California.

Padilla called that a “flat-out lie.” He said his office reached out to Trump aides asking them to provide evidence for his claims and never heard back. In a press release issued then, Padilla said Trump’s leveling of harsh allegations without having a case is “frankly dangerous to people’s faith in our democratic system.”

In May, after Trump aides announced the creation of the Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity, Padilla again responded with outrage.

“The commission’s mandate is deeply flawed and its motives suspect,” the secretary of state said in a statement. “The only purpose this commission serves is to distract from critical investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election. And I fear that it will serve as pretext for the administration’s efforts to roll back the voting rights so many fought so hard to obtain.”

But Padilla has also flatly rejected the idea that Russian operatives or operatives from any nation “hacked” any of the state’s election systems.

Bloomberg News: California election contractor was infiltrated

Yet early Tuesday, citing a classified NSA report obtained and released by The Intercept, Bloomberg News reported that “Russia’s cyberattack on the U.S. electoral system before Donald Trump’s election was far more widespread than has been publicly revealed, including incursions into voter databases and software systems in almost twice as many states as previously reported.”

U.S. intelligence agencies investigating a hack targeting Illinois election operations found telltale evidence that enabled them to uncover similar attempts to infiltrate voting systems elsewhere.

“Thirty-seven states reported finding traces of the hackers in various systems, according to one of the people familiar with the probe,” Bloomberg reported. “In two others – Florida and California – those traces were found in systems run by a private contractor managing critical election systems.” In Florida, Bloomberg wrote, another leak had established the contractor was VR Systems.

In response, Padilla’s office issued a statement that suggested the NSA report was based on outdated information.

“There is no evidence of any breach of elections systems in California. VR Systems, which is headquartered in Florida, does not provide services to the secretary of state,” Padilla said. His statement asserted that while VR Systems once provided some election services to Humboldt County, it was not involved in tabulating votes in California in 2016.

Separately, KPCC – the Pasadena-Los Angeles National Public Radio affiliate – reported that it had contacted election officials in the counties of Los Angeles, San Diego, Orange, Riverside and Ventura, and all denied knowledge of having been hacked.

Meanwhile, there’s been little news on what Trump’s Presidential Advisory Commission on Election Integrity has done to investigate the president’s claims. The order creating the commission contained no timetable for it to issue interim findings or a full report.


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  1. Truthafuss
    Truthafuss 15 June, 2017, 15:14

    Padilla, believe him? Never. He might as well be a member of a drug cartel. Sacramento is broke and very, very corrupt.

    Reply this comment
  2. lb1
    lb1 15 June, 2017, 17:55

    They are all thugs and terrorist.

    Reply this comment
  3. Ulysses Uhaul
    Ulysses Uhaul 15 June, 2017, 18:35

    Something smells. How did Herr Arnold or Maldo ever get elected?

    Reply this comment
  4. Bob Smith
    Bob Smith 15 June, 2017, 22:30

    How is the president’s Commission on Election Integrity flawed? The only flaw I can see is it might uncover evidence of illegal aliens voting and Democrat vote fraud.

    Reply this comment
  5. Dork
    Dork 19 June, 2017, 06:05

    Padilla said Trump’s leveling of harsh allegations without having a case is “frankly dangerous to people’s faith in our democratic system.”

    Good, then Alex Padilla shhould be held Criminally Liable for ANY AND ALL Illegal Voting Acts.

    Reply this comment
  6. Tobi
    Tobi 12 July, 2017, 00:22

    Under the guise of voting rights, the Democrats have consistently pushed for not requiring I.D.s from people in order to vote – even calling it racist and discriminatory! They talk as if the poor, minority people they are supposedly talking about are basically incompetent to manage their own lives – so they must be helped.

    In a recent video some of these people were asked about obtaining an I.D. in order to be able to vote. They were angry and offended that politicians had pictured them in this light. They all knew where the local DMV was and said they would have no trouble or issue in getting an I.D. in order to vote. They also interviewed people who were not a part of this highlighted group. All of them thought these people the Democrats portrayed were actually incapable of getting an I.D. for themselves, for any reason. They had come to think these people were really less than able to handle their personal affairs based largely on the way the Democrats had portrayed them in this voting rights issue.

    It boils down to Democrats fabricating a lie about a group of people in order to get what they want – loose, or better yet, non-existent voter I.D. requirements. What possible motivation could there be for doing this – if these people they have used in pursuit of their political agenda, are, in fact, perfectly capable of getting an I.D. in order to register and to vote? I.D.s are required for all kinds of things and it would be difficult to imagine someone going through life without one.

    It has become quite obvious that Democrats want to increase voter registration in this group because they tend to vote for more Democrats. I don’t think their interest in this group is motivated by anything other than getting more votes!

    With few screenings in place, especially in California, is it any wonder that people are extremely concerned about illegal aliens voting in our elections as well!

    What I want to know, and have never heard, is what exactly can the Democrats show us that they think would prevent illegal voting from happening – and on a large scale? So as far as I’m concerned, large voting blocks of illegal aliens fits right in with their political wrangling to always make voter registration and voting itself easier to do, with minimum safeguards to ensure only citizens vote.

    Reply this comment

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Chris Reed

Chris Reed

Chris Reed is a regular contributor to Cal Watchdog. Reed is an editorial writer for U-T San Diego. Before joining the U-T in July 2005, he was the opinion-page columns editor and wrote the featured weekly Unspin column for The Orange County Register. Reed was on the national board of the Association of Opinion Page Editors from 2003-2005. From 2000 to 2005, Reed made more than 100 appearances as a featured news analyst on Los Angeles-area National Public Radio affiliate KPCC-FM. From 1990 to 1998, Reed was an editor, metro columnist and film critic at the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in Ontario. Reed has a political science degree from the University of Hawaii (Hilo campus), where he edited the student newspaper, the Vulcan News, his senior year. He is on Twitter: @chrisreed99.

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