Hackers stole $2.3 million from the Wisconsin Republican Party’s Donald Trump reelection fund, the Associated Press reported on Thursday (Oct. 29). Republican Party Chairman Andrew Hitt told the outlet he noticed suspicious activity in the account, dedicated to the president’s campaigning efforts, on Oct. 22 and alerted the FBI last week.
“We have been in contact with the state party and are assisting them through this process,” Republican National Committee spokesman Michael Ahrens said. “The RNC never left Wisconsin after 2016 and we are confident that our ground game and the millions we are spending on TV and digital will deliver us another win there in 2020.”
Hitt says hackers used manipulated invoices from four different vendors to steal the money. The vendors were reportedly being paid for direct mail for Trump’s campaign and for Trump merchandise, such as hats. Hitt claims invoices for these and other documents were changed so that when the party paid the vendors, the money instead went to the hackers. Hitt added that the FBI is currently investigating the situation.
The hack was discovered less than two weeks before Election Day as both Trump and Joe Biden make their final campaign pushes. Wisconsin — considered a key battleground state — recently opened up early voting and 1.6 million ballots have already been cast. Both Trump and Biden have scheduled rallies in the state for tomorrow (Oct. 30). Polls have consistently shown the margin between the two candidates to be razor-thin with Biden pulling ahead by just single digits.
Associated Press notes that Wisconsin Democrats have raised more than double the state Republicans’ money for campaigning. Party spokesperson Courtney Beyer told the outlet they’ve experienced over 800 phishing attempts this year, but none have been successful. Hitt said he’s not sure if other state Republican parties were targeted in the recent hack.