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NY-23 2014 Tag

We have highlighted the race between Republican Rep. Tom Reed and Democratic challenger Martha Robertson in NY-23 many times. In part because it's my home district, but mostly because it is a swing district which leans Republican but includes liberal Tompkins County, making it competitive. It's not hyperbole to say the upstate NY districts like NY-23 will be key to Republicans holding the House by a comfortable majority. Robertson's problems with an apparently false fundraising claim that "GOP Ops" tried to take down her website during a crucial fundraising period gained statewide and even national attention. Legal Insurrection broke that story. Robertson said the campaign would hire a forensic investigative team, but the campaign has not responded to my email seeking an update as to whether a firm was hired and the status of the investigation of the alleged hacking. Robertson also is receiving local media attention for her years-long support for single payer, another story Legal Insurrection broke: I predicted that Robertson would have trouble with single payers support in the wake of the Obamacare debacle, and sure enough, she's running away from her past support for single payer. The Buffalo News reports on the controversy:

Ever since Legal Insurrection broke the story that NY-23 Democratic challenger Martha Robertson sent a fundraising email claiming that “GOP Ops” had been “caught” trying to take down her website, Robertson has been on the defensive. The Robertson campaign has not provided any proof that GOP operatives attempted to hack her website and has backed off that claim.  The website never was down, and the “hacking” claim may have been nothing more than routine server problems.  A local Republican leader asked for an investigation by the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office as to whether the Robertson campaign violated any laws. Now even Roll Call is raising the issue, Democrat Will Hire Cybersecurity Firm for Alleged Website Hack:
Tompkins County Council Chairwoman Martha Robertson, a Democrat challenging GOP Rep. Tom Reed in New York’s 23rd District, called the recent brouhaha over an alleged hacking of her campaign website “a distraction” from the race in an interview with CQ Roll Call earlier this month. Republicans have been pressuring Robertson to provide proof that GOP operatives attempted to hack her campaign website. Robertson made that claim in a Sept. 30 fundraising email. “We’re working to hire a cyber-security firm to take a serious look at that and investigate everything that happened. Beyond that it’s really better to leave it up to them,” Robertson said. “At the end of the day I think … it’s beyond a distraction. [Voters] are concerned about their pocketbook issues — whether or not their Social Security and Medicare payments are going to be there as they depend on them.” New York’s 23rd District is rated a Lean Republican contest by Rothenberg Political Report/Roll Call.
Robertson's statement that the campaign is hiring a cybersecurity firm to investigate is an implicit admission that she still does not have any proof to back up her fundraising claim that GOP operatives were caught trying to take down her website.

NY-23, a Republican-leaning District that includes Ithaca and most of the Southern Tier, is a high profile target for national Democrats. The DCCC has it on its Jumpstart Candidate list and MoveOn.org via PPP Polling is claiming the district is competitive. (See this critique of these PPP messaging polls.  Frankly, several of the PPP questions sound more like push polling.) Yet Martha Robertson, the Democratic challenger to incumbent Republican Tom Reed, has a fundraising problem as to which her campaign has been on virtual lockdown. Robertson sent a fundraising letter claiming her campaign had "caught" GOP operatives trying to take down her website. That pitch, just hours before the September 30 quarterly deadline, was meant to fill what the letter claimed was a fundraising shortfall. But the campaign repeatedly has refused media requests -- including by Legal Insurrection -- for proof of the accusation. In the one statement she did give on the situation, Robertson appeared to back away from the accusation of GOP hacking, merely stating that her website operator noticed suspicious activity. But neither Robertson nor the campaign has addressed the situation directly, drawing local television coverage. Now the Reed campaign is demanding Robertson admit to the false fundraising solicitation and return the money raised. Rep. Reed Calls on Robertson to Return Money Raised
(WETM-TV) – Congressman Tom Reed is calling on Democratic Challenger Martha Robertson to give back the money she raised from a September 30th e-mail to supporters where she claimed “GOP ops” were hacking her site. In an interview with the Star Gazette, Robertson said her web manager “noticed some very, very unusual activity,” but did not say the site was hacked.
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