By SCOTT BAUER, Associated Press
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — All of the $2.3 million stolen from the Wisconsin Republican Party by hackers just before the 2020 presidential election has been recovered, including nearly $600,000 obtained by the FBI and returned to the party last month, the state party said the president Tuesday.
The state GOP noticed suspicious activity on October 22, 2020, and contacted the FBI a day later, less than two weeks before Election Day. The party determined the money was taken from the account it was using to try to re-elect President Donald Trump. He then lost Wisconsin to President Joe Biden by less than 21,000 votes.
The investigation into the theft is ongoing, Wisconsin party chairman Mark Jefferson said.
“We understand that the investigation remains active and what decisions have been made to hold those responsible accountable we are not aware of at this time,” Jefferson said.
Wisconsin FBI spokesman Leonard Peace did not immediately return a message.
Then-Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt said in 2020 that hackers manipulated invoices from four vendors who were paid for direct mail for Trump’s re-election efforts as well as pro-Trump material like hats to distribute to supporters. . Invoices and other documents were changed so that when the party paid them, the money went to the pirates instead of the vendors, Hitt said.
The party has increased its cybersecurity operations over the past two years and has no longer been hacked, although there have been numerous attempts, said Jefferson, the current president. That work includes contracting with an outside agency to help train party employees, Jefferson said.
“Cybersecurity has only become more of a problem in the past two years,” he said.
The FBI returned just under $600,000 to the party on April 14, which appeared on campaign finance forms as a “fraudulent transfer recovery.” The party’s bank fraud unit was able to recover $1.5 million over the past 18 months, Jefferson said. The rest of what was stolen was replaced either through insurance payments or targeted fundraising to help recover from the theft, he said.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.