Apparently, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke was a member of a teenage hacking group called Cult of the Dead Cow.

An intrepid Reuters reporter, who was researching a book at the time, tracked down and confirmed this story prior to the 2018 midterms, but agreed to hold it until after Texas voters headed to the polls to vote for their choice for Senate.  In that race, O’Rourke lost to incumbent Senator Ted Cruz (R).

The Washington Examiner reports:

Reuters held on to a report about former congressman Beto O’Rourke and his participation in a hacking group as a teenager until after his failed 2018 Senate race in Texas.

O’Rourke, now 46, announced Thursday he’s running for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination. A day later, Reuters reported he was a member of a computer hacking group called the Cult of the Dead Cow and authored a series of writings under the name “Psychedelic Warlord” [. . . .], including disturbing fiction he wrote when he was about 15 that detailed the murder of children.

“I’m mortified to read it now, incredibly embarrassed, but I have to take ownership of my words,” O’Rourke said in an apology. “Whatever my intention was as a teenager doesn’t matter, I have to look long and hard at my actions, at the language I have used, and I have to constantly try to do better.”

“It’s not anything I’m proud of today, and I mean, that’s the long and short of it,” he told reporters earlier on Friday. “All I can do is my best, which is what I’m trying to do. I can’t control anything I’ve done in the past. I can only control what I do going forward and what I plan to do is give this my best.”

O’Rourke also apologized for joking about “sometimes” helping his wife raise their three children.

Reuters recounts how their reporter agreed not to reveal the name of the politician seeking election in 2018 if a member of the hacking group shared this information.  He did so, and later, O’Rourke himself reportedly acknowledged that he had been a member of the group.  He acknowledged this, reportedly, on the understanding that it would not be revealed until after the election.

Reuters reports:

Reuters reporter Joseph Menn exclusively revealed on Friday that Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke belonged to one of the best-known groups of computer hackers as a teenager.

. . . . Members of the group, which calls itself Cult of the Dead Cow, protected O’Rourke’s secret for decades, reluctant to compromise the former Texas Congressman’s political career.

After more than a year of reporting, Menn persuaded O’Rourke to talk on the record. In an interview in late 2017, O’Rourke acknowledged that he was a member of the group, on the understanding that the information would not be made public until after his Senate race against Ted Cruz in November 2018.

This was uncovered while Joseph Menn was researching a book about the Cult of the Dead Cow hacking group.  Menn explains that he was focused on his book:  “I wanted the full story for my book, which spans decades, rather than 1 scoop ahead of a state vote. I offered O’Rourke the same terms. He accepted, and we spoke.”

Reuters continues:

In an interview with Reuters senior producer Jane Lee, Menn explains how he broke the story and got O’Rourke to open up about his hacking days.

“I decided to write a book about the Cult of the Dead Cow because they were the most interesting and influential hacking group in history. They illustrated a lot of the things that I think are fascinating about hacking and security work.

“While I was looking into the Cult of the Dead Cow, I found out that they had a member who was sitting in Congress. I didn’t know which one. But I knew that they had a member of Congress.

“And then I figured out which one it was. And the members of the group wouldn’t talk to me about who it was. They wouldn’t confirm that it was this person unless I promised that I wouldn’t write about it until after the November election. That’s because the member of Congress had decided to run for Senate. Beto O’Rourke is who it was.