Politico

NRSC staffers resign after digital break-in

Written by Lisa

Two fundraising staffers for the National Republican Senatorial Committee who broke into the computer servers of the House GOP campaign arm resigned late last week, Republican sources told POLITICO.

The staffers, Laura Kleffner and Krista Madaio, had previously worked at the National Republican Congressional Committee. Three Republican sources said last week that the NRSC aides used their old NRCC passwords to collect information on more than 200,000 donors. The digital break-in infuriated NRCC officials when they became aware of it in October.

The NRSC and NRCC both declined to comment.

Donor lists are valuable assets for party committees, key to raising the tens of millions of dollars need to wage elections across the United States. The lists contain not only names, phone numbers and e-mail addresses, but also information that could be used to entice donors, such as policy issues they’re interested in.

The donor lists are part of what committees put up in collateral to secure tens of millions in loans at the end of each election cycle. The committee lists are also considered stronger, with more reliable donors, than other lists, and have 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.”

While both the NRSC and NRCC work to elect Republicans to Congress and often share strategies, they also compete for donors. Senate Republicans have struggled to raise money this year, with the NRSC spending more money than it has raised four months in a row, according to campaign finance reports. That performance has left the committee with $14 million on hand and more than $10 million in debt.

A favorable election landscape has the NRSC looking to pick up Senate seats next year. Ten Democrats are up for reelection in states that President Donald Trump carried in 2016.

House Republicans face a more daunting environment, given President Donald Trump’s historically low approval ratings. They are defending a 24-seat majority, and Democrats are seen as having a reasonable shot at winning the House if Republican fortunes fail to improve. But the House GOP campaign arm, with $40 million on hand with no debt, is in much better financial shape that its Senate counterpart.

The NRCC continues to post strong fundraising figures, finishing October with $17 million more in its bank account than at this point in any previous election cycle.

Over the course of the 2016 cycle, the NRSC spent $134 million and the NRCC spent $161 million.

News that the pair of NRSC officials accessed NRCC computers without permission has been the talk of GOP donor circles in recent weeks. One source last week compared it, jokingly, to Russian activities 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,” a Republican fundraiser said last week. “The people at the NRCC, who found out about this, are really pissed. They’re supposed to be on the same team.”

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