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Have they no Seamus? Tipster claims hack of Romney email

June 05, 2012|By Melanie Mason

An anonymous hacker claimed to have broken into Mitt Romney’s personal e-mail account Tuesday, allegedly gaining access by guessing the answer to the security question, “What is your favorite pet?”

A tipster to Gawker bragged of the hack into the presumptive GOP nominee’s Hotmail and Dropbox accounts and claimed to have changed its password, but did not include any screen shots of the accounts’ content as proof.

Gawker did not attempt to use the changed password to access the account — that could land the site in legal hot water — but it did alert the Romney campaign to the alleged hacker’s claim. There was no word whether the answer to the Romney pet question was "Seamus," whose strapped-on-the-roof car ride on a family vacation has made Romney the target of outraged pet lovers.

The campaign had little to say on the matter. "The proper authorities are investigating this crime and we will have no further comment on it," said the campaign’s communication director, Gail Gitcho, in a statement.

The email address was most recently made public in a Wall Street Journal story published Tuesday, which obtained emails through a public records request. The story detailed the behind-the-scenes efforts by Romney and his aides to pass his state healthcare bill, including putting forth a strong defense of the individual mandate.

Romney used the Hotmail address while he was governor of Massachusetts, at times to conduct state business. It is unlikely the account has seen much recent activity; Romney moved to an email at his campaign domain, mittromney.com, in 2006. But an Associated Press story earlier this year noted that the Hotmail account appeared operational as recently as March.

In 2008, the Yahoo account of vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin was hacked; a 22-year-old student from Tennessee was later found guilty of unauthorized access to a computer and obstruction of justice.

The Obama and McCain campaigns had computer breaches of their own in 2008. The two campaigns were subject to a cyber-attack by a "foreign entity," compromising their computer systems and prompting an FBI investigation.

melanie.mason@latimes.com

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