Florida OKs $19M for election security after hack attempts
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Florida lawmakers on Thursday approved the use of a $19 million federal grant to improve election security, a week after a federal indictment alleged Russian hackers targeted county offices before the 2016 presidential election.
The indictment said county offices in Florida, Georgia, and Iowa were probed by Russians, but so far officials in the three states aren’t providing details of which counties were targeted and how.
Florida Senate Democratic Leader Oscar Braynon wanted details about the attempted 2016 attacks before the Joint Legislative Budget Commission approved the election security money but got no new information from Secretary of State Ken Detzner.
“Maybe you can even tell us what happened, because I’m not even sure what really happened,” said Brayon.
Detzner didn’t directly answer the question, but rather said the federal money would be used to prevent future attacks and protect breaches in the election system.
When Braynon again asked for more details about 2016, Detzner again provided nothing new.
“This is a success story for the state of Florida because no breaches occurred in the state data system,” Detzner said. “The Florida voter registration system was secure, is secure and will remain secure during the 2018 election.”
After the meeting, Detzner was asked by a reporter which counties were targeted in 2016 and he wouldn’t say. He did say that Florida elections officials weren’t aware of any attempted hacking until being briefed by the FBI last September.
The indictment issued last Friday concludes that 12 Russian agents were part of a massive cyber operation to disrupt the 2016 election. While President Donald Trump signed the bill that provides $380 million in election security grants, he’s still sending mixed messages on whether he believes Russia meddled in the election and whether there’s a threat to the midterm elections.
Like Detzner, Georgia and Iowa officials have also failed to provide details on which counties were targeted in their states.
Kevin Hall, spokesman for Iowa Secretary of State Paul Pate, said Pate’s office doesn’t know which counties in Iowa were probed.
“They Googled websites and visited them. That’s it,” Hall said.
Candice Broce, spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, said she had “no additional information to provide” about which counties in Georgia were probed.
AP writers Ben Nadler in Atlanta and Scott Stewart in Des Moines, Iowa, contributed to this report.