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Foreign Hackers Appear To Target Scudder Campaign

This screenshot released by the Scudder campaign includes "internet partner," "Republic of Belarus" and "Minsk" written in Cyrillic letters.
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This screenshot released by the Scudder campaign includes "internet partner," "Republic of Belarus" and "Minsk" written in Cyrillic letters.

It’s a long way between Russia and Northeast Texas, but apparently, the significance of Texas Senate District 2 is enough to attract attention from the land of beet soup and bath houses.

The seat, currently held by incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Hall, is being contested by Democrat Kendall Scudder on November ballots. Scudder’s campaign has been battling what appear to be Russian hacking attempts of the candidate’s website.

Scudder’s campaign took the website offline on April 21 after coding in Russian and digital trails leading to Russian websites were found embedded in the server. A screenshot released by the campaign on Sunday shows a reference to an “internet partner” in Minsk, capital of the former Soviet republic of Belarus, now an independent country that maintains political alliances with Russia.

Scudder’s campaign communications director reports trouble as early as March, when visitors to the website were told that "attackers" were trying to redirect users to a fake website. His staff fixed the problem, he said.

The campaign decided to rebuild a new website from scratch after two more alerts about hacking attempts, Scudder said.

"We won't be sidetracked by anything — whether it's foreign hackers or our opponent's domestic dark money. I'll stand against any attack on democracy and American values," he said in a released statement. "Though the timing of this hack is unfortunate, we are fully cooperating with all ongoing investigations."

Scudder’s campaign sad that “supporter and donor information is safe, stored separately, and has not been accessed by any third-party, precautionary steps have been taken to protect that information.”

Scudder currently works as a manager at Atlantic Housing Foundation in Dallas.

Mark Haslett has served at KETR since 2013. Since then, the station's news operation has enjoyed an increase in listener engagement and audience metrics, as well recognition in the Texas AP Broadcasters awards.