Last Updated: 9:43 p.m.
The emails that several Flagler County Democrats, hundreds of Floridians and others across the country received today, threatening recipients to vote for Donald Trump or else, were the work of Iran, according to FBI Director Christopher Wray and National Intelligence Director John Ratcliffe, who spoke with reporters Wednesday evening.
Emails began popping up in local residents’ in-boxes Tuesday evening, and were reported to the sheriff’s office and the Flagler County Supervisor of Elections’ office. Almost 200 students and faculty at the University of Florida got the same email, personalized in the recipient’s case in every case.
Federal officials told reporters that Iran and Russia had obtained voter-registration records, which are public records across the country and may easily be acquired. In Florida–and in Flagler–voters are given the choice to include an email address as part of their registration record. Many do. But voters’ choices when they cast ballots are not knowable, as the email claims. Russia was not tied to the threatening emails, which posed as coming from a pro-Trump group known as the Proud Boys.
The New York Times this evening reported Ratcliffe saying that “the effort was aimed at hurting President Trump, and intelligence officials have said Iran opposes the president’s re-election. But if the emails had the effect of intimidating Democrats, they could also have hurt Joseph R. Biden Jr., the Democratic nominee. ‘This data can be used by foreign actors to attempt to communicate false information to registered voters that they hope will cause confusion, sow chaos and undermine your confidence in American democracy,'” Ratcliffe told the paper.
Today’s earlier story is below.
‘You Will Vote for Trump or We Will Come After You’: Flagler Democrats Targeted With Threatening Emails
Supervisor of Elections Kaiti Lenhart this morning said Flagler County voters notified her office about receiving threatening voter-intimidation emails , waring them to vote for Donald Trump, or else. The sheriff’s office received two such complaints from local residents, the supervisor received one. A local resident forwarded a fourth such email to FlaglerLive. All four originate from “Proud Boys” and the email, [email protected].
“I received it today and forwarded a copy to the FBI and to the Supervisor of Elections,” a resident told FlaglerLive.
Proud Boys is the far-right group of self-described “western chauvinists” that the Southern Poverty Law Center ranks among hate groups, and that Trump ordered to “stand back and stand by,” when asked to condemn white supremacy at his first debate with Joe Biden. The president refused to condemn the group. “Members of the group online took the answer as a call to prepare for action,” the BBC reported.
The emails sent to Flagler voters are identical to those sent to other Democrats in Florida and Alaska, from the same email address.
“Enrique Tarrio, the chairman of the Proud Boys and the Florida state director of Latinos for Trump, denied involvement,” the Washington Post reports today, “saying the group operates two sites, and was increasingly migrating away from the domain used in the email campaign.” If so, the Proud Boys’ former domain name itself appears to have been misused after the organization says it stopped using it–but left it unsecured.
Two emails sent to a 65-year-old resident in the Palm Harbor area of Palm Coast at 5:20 and 6:54 p.m., began with the resident’s name in capital letters, and the following: “We are in possession of all your information You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you.” The email then lists the resident’s home address in capital letters, and adds: “good luck ;) ”
The sender, of course, is misinformed: while voter-registration databases are public, who a voter votes for remains secret: the threat cannot be taken seriously.
The email included a link that goes to a 150-second video that starts with a clip of Trump saying, “I think that mail-in voting is a terrible thing,” before showing what purports to be a logo of the “Proud Boys” and a series of live screenshots apparently intended to indicate the alleged ease of hacking into voter databases and voter fraud. While voter databases are public, and routinely used by political parties in get-out-the-vote strategies, voter fraud is extremely rare. Trump’s own voter-fraud commission disbanded in 2018 after finding no evidence of widespread voter fraud.
Another email went to a Flagler Beach resident, and a third went to a 78-year-old F Section resident, again listing her name in capital letters and repeating the same threats. But that voter told a deputy it was too late: she had already voted. The deputy investigating the case notified the voter that “similar emails sent by Proud Boys were reported to CBS News, The Orlando Sentinel, multiple police and sheriffs departments,” according to a sheriff’s incident report, and instructed the voter to report the email to the Federal Trade Commission. University of Florida spokesman Steve Orlando told CNN that 183 people, including students, staff and alumni, received the emails.
“I want to assure our county voters that we are taking every step necessary to ensure your vote counts in this election,” Lenhart said in a statement issued this morning. “First of all, certain voter information is a public record. From my research, it seems the publicly available information such as name, address, party affiliation and sample ballot email address have been used to personalize this email. The email was only sent to registered Democrats in Florida, although I have seen news reports that similar emails have been sent in other states as well. We maintain your secret ballot as required by the US Constitution. No one knows how you vote. Ironically, the email was sent to voters who have already voted early or by mail.
Lenhart added: “Please do not let this type of behavior discourage you from voting for your candidate of choice. This such an important election and unfortunately these scammers are using public information to attack voter confidence in the voting process. I also hope this incident will be enough to convince the Florida Legislature that voter information should be exempt from public records.”
Mike Cocchiola, who heads the local Democratic Party, said he made the rounds of all three early voting stations this morning and spoke with volunteers. None reported receiving the email.
“We’re passing the warning around to our voter-protection team,” Cocchiola said. “It’s obviously unconscionable, but I do not at this point believe that it’s an organized effort from the Republican Party or anything like that. I think it’s outside agitators doing this. I don’t believe at this point it’s widespread.” But Cocchiola said the intent was clearly to intimidate and keep people from voting Democratic.
There’s been a surge of Democratic votes in a record-breaking bout of mail-in and early voting across Florida, with Democrats so far holding an edge in ballots cast even in Flagler, where Republicans have a 13-point advantage in registrations. As of today, Democrats held a 43-39 percent advantage over Republican ballots cast, but Republicans have been narrowing the gap steadily since early voting began Monday. Statewide, Democrats hold less than a point advantage over Republicans in registration, but as of today, Democrats had cast 1.7 million ballots to Republicans’ 1.2 million. But again, Republicans are voting in larger numbers in in-person, early voting, which runs through Oct. 31 in Flagler, and are expected to outpace Democrats on Election Day on Nov. 3.
Turnout so far has been high: mail-in ballots broke the record last week in Flagler, though in-person, early voting remains below the level of 2016. But early voting across the state is breaking records. “In my years of being a political person here in Flagler I’ve never seen the excitement out,” Cocchiola said, “and that’s for both sides, Democrats and Republicans.” He said voting days have been marred only by “annoying little things” from both sides, such as stepping over the 150-foot no-soliciting barriers at the voting locations. Otherwise, it’s been civil. “I just see from all sides, from all around, a good, peaceful democratic—and I mean that from the broad sense of democratic–event,” Cocchiola said.
Proudboys ? I thought those were Donnie Supporters in drag, waving rainbow Flags donning feather boas and make up with pictures of same sex couples embracing displaying proudly PDA. I dont understand??Whats to fear.??? LOL The more Groups like this do the more that get caught in the game. VOTE ACCORDINGLY
I hear tell New Zealand is nice in January…………..and it wouldn’t surprise me if they weren’t sent by Democrats.
I didn’t get anything threatening, mail, email, text, phone calls, it’s just an email though. Not like they know who voted for who anyway. What s also threatening & intimidating, anyone approaching you at the polling precincts with a sign, handouts or a t-shirt proclaiming their convictions to support either position. Nothing is anonymous in that moment. And there is too many of them for each side, chaos & confusion, stressful enough that the voting process has a new twist of COVID-19, but add the volunteers or paid henchmen to sway votes with that promotional effort and I think those people should be banned. Arrive, vote & leave, it’s a simple process that too many don’t comprehend. The fact anyone is voting is not a last ditch effort to sway, persuade or debate anyone’s vote. voting by mail isn’t perfect anonymity, but it’s better than showing up to a precinct and facing the radical extremes of either side.
I got a text from somebody named Mark telling me to vote for Biden. He said he was with the Democratic Party.
I’m waiting to receive my email from these Russian trolls passing off as the brainless proud boys. I have the perfect response. Tick tock, time’s a-wasting. Oh wait, I just Googled my name and voter registration, and lo and behold what did I see? My party affiliation and my address. Wow. Public information is sooo damning. I’m proudly voting for America and the republic, not for a continuation of the autocracy of a crazy man that is owned by foreign governments and pals with those pedos Epstein and Maxwell. Trump is responsible for over 221,000 deaths and counting. He doesn’t want to talk about COVID anymore because he’s failing at every turn. His schtick isn’t working anymore. It’s exhausting listening to his tantrums. He wants to talk about corrupted children of politicians, look no further than his own. Everything he says is a projection, things he or his children are guilty of and displacing those actions onto other people. It’s what narcissistic sociopaths do to make sense of their own shortcomings and lack of empathy. So, c’mon send me my email. I’ll gladly remind them that FL is a stand your ground state and I have security cameras all around my property. Just because I’m a liberal doesn’t mean I don’t have bite to go with my bark.
Yes! Wish I had said that!
Proud american says
Do you hear yourself? It amazes me that there are such stark contrasts to how we view the world. A major newspaper, the FBI, and people on the other side of the correspondence have confirmed the validity of the lab-top. The guy is a crack head. Forgot to pick up his stuff from a repair shop. Yet because the paid for media tells you it’s Russia you believe them? They blocked anyone from sharing the article? They control you and what they want you to see.
Someone who has been in Office longer than I have been alive hasn’t fixed anything yet, but all of a sudden now he knows what to do?
Wake up folks….it’s sad that you are that easily controlled.
Exactly how I feel about the lying Trump Administration. His base will believe anyrhing Almost Comical.
Jane Gentile-Youd says
My first thought… Is Mullins going to carry out his threats he made a few months ago and supply the trains ? Just sayin’
Jane K says
This is the USA. We can vote for whomever we choose!!!
Voter suppression; voter intimidation. What’s next. Every Man and Woman who has ever worn the uniform of the United States Military and who has sworn to uphold the Rights of the American Citizens should be appalled. The Right to Vote unimpeded – a Right that they have put their lives on the line for – will be compromised if these Bullies get their way. Every person, regardless of their Party Affiliation, should contact Senators Rubio and Scott and Member of Congress Waltz and have them request that the President denounce the use of his Name in such a threatening email. Or, maybe that what he meant by “Stand By” If President Trump gives tacit approval of these emails by not denouncing them, these are the actions of the Leaders of China, North Korea, and Russia not Germany, France, and the United Kingdom. What kind of Country do you want to live in?
Consider the either the fine people “I know nothing about” or else it the orange man’s handler, Vlad, who is behind this.
OHH NO says
It’s a good thing I did not get an email! I’m a registered Republican and voting for them Dems! ;-P
Jeanne Miller says
How do you know how many democratic ballots have been mailed if it is supposed to be secret? Where is this information coming from? Are mail in ballot envelopes marked as registered democrat or Republican? The results of mailed in ballots are revealed now?
Several states indicate and tabulate the party registration of mailed-in and early-vote ballots as they are received, but not the nature of the votes. Florida is among those states.
Jeanne: the ballot outer envelope has the voter name and on reception they compare with the computarized voter rolls and they know the party affiliation as simple as that. What they don’t know is if the affiliated voter is going to vote for his party or else. Even before election day they can tell how many Reps, Gops or Npas ballets were received by mail or early voting. I am a registered GOP and of course I didn’t get any email…they don’t know I am voting for Biden in spite of the publicized bully militias threat if TTT looses…When he won no one came out with their weapons on the streets… and lets keep that in mind.
do you really think they (proudboys) would put their logo on the email?
emails can be traced by the IP address
Several media sites are reporting that the IP addresses are being traced to foreign sources, like Estonia. Remember, folks, the goal of the Russian disinformation/intimidation campaign goes far beyond any one election. The overriding goal is to “divide and conquer” the citizenry of our country. We shouldn’t feed or fall into that trap, no matter what side of the political aisle we stand on.
The FBI announced the e-mails have come from Russia and Iran.
Per Jax4 news, the source of the emails was Iran.
Their intent was to sow division and discontent in the electorate.
Based on the comments in this section, I’d say “mission accomplished”.
Good job folks, good job!
The Truth says
Did you think we were all singing and dancing together before? These emails changed nothing.
Iran? You really believe that?
PAUL Harrington says
This story will probably be spun 10 different ways before the truth is known, if it is ever figured out or revealed. Politics are becoming more bizarre each day. What’s next, a WWF referee will make the final call?
A. J. says
Again, a country or countries trying to sway the election. Very little is being said about THE USA medling in other countries elections, just saying.
Good Grief! The same people who take an email like this seriously are the same people who will send their money to a foreign prince in order to receive more money. The same people who will send all their personal information to “confirm” their identity. I clearly see the purpose of this ridiculous article.
You hit the nail on the head. Pathetic that so many morons fall for stuff like this.
BIG Neighbor says
People who minimize or dismiss this threat become an insider threat themselves. Case in point, we experienced an elderly man that reminded us to vote a certain way while we were standing in line, otherwise we’re going Socialist. And, judging by the response of local authorities, mentality like this is being tolerated through complacency. I’ve got to wonder if some of these people actually think for themselves and not regurgitate what they hear by…..leaders? The same people that brought you National Enquirer?
Let’s get a handle on the things we can control. Insist PSA and government or civil information not be distributed through social media. Instead, insist information links that circle back to the originating source be posted in their stead. That way authentic information is delivered to the intended audience and not combined with opinion and hyperbole.
Deborah Coffey says
I don’t believe Ratcliffe or Wray or one word that comes from this lying administration. I got the email from the Proud Boys yesterday morning threatening my life. This is NOT from Iran (like Trump told them to say); this is a homegrown right wing attack sent through foreign Russian servers. With Trump, ALL roads lead to Russia. Trump is desperate and, he should be. He’s going to lose and then be arrested the minute he steps out of our White House.
You can keep your doctor!
All of you people who posted all of that crap about President Trumps “Proud Boys” above should be ashamed of yourselves. Try looking into a mirror occasionally to see whats looking back, you may just be shocked at what you see. Oh! I forgot, we now live in a country where you are GUILTY until proven INNOCENT. SMH, sad!
Can’t wait to see what Russia will do with the voter information that they have stolen to use against Biden. After all look what they did to Crooked Hillary.
“Work of Iran”? That is a confusing statement. Were the threats a) State sponsored by the government of Iran, b) the work of an individual independant group of Iranians. or c) the work of a hacker anywhere in the world using a VPN to create an Iranian IP identity?
Just sayin. If I go online and create internet havoc in a foreign country today, is that the work of the United States?
Mr. D says
The Iranian Trolls set the liberal media up like a bowling pin. Their stated goal was to throw the “proud boys” disinformation into the pot and let the chips fall where they may. You guys took the bait hook, line and sinker. Even though the emails sent to Democratic voters was patently absurd, the media ran with it. Even after the FBI announced it was a scam, MSNBC and CNN were still claiming that far right groups could still have a hand in it. Can’t wait for the Nigerian Prince to show up!
Mike Cocchiola says
Democrats in 2 states have received threatening emails purporting to be from the “Proud Boys” warning them to vote for Trump, or else. It is a SCAM. A rather ham-handed, clumsy, but still illegal, attempt to intimidate voters. The important thing is that YOUR VOTE IS SAFE and it is SECRET.
This is not coming from people here in town. It appears to be coming from or routed through servers in Estonia and possibly Saudi Arabia. The FBI is on it. The Supervisor of Election has been notified. The Voter Protection Team is aware of it. KEEP VOTING!
Diana LeBrun says
I am a recipient of TWO of these emails.
I am savvy enough to realize that the Proud Boys, probably didn’t send these, (as despicable as they are), I am savvy enough to realize that this is voter interference and it is against the law, I am savvy enough not to blame anyone, until I hear it from dependable people that have enough time to investigate this.
I am appalled that some of my fellow Americans think that this is a joke and are quick to blame one side or the other.
It didn’t deter me but did it deter others?
Can’t we act like Americans and defend our Country and our fellow American’s right to vote for whom they wish?
One has to be stupid to believe ths propaganda by the Funny Bureau of Iddiocy (FBI).
I also believe that king of Lugash may have also been in loved according to chief inspector Clouseau
OR better yet GUILIANI Hannity Rush Donnie LMAO
Yes, and all Biden has to do is say the laptop and emails are fakes, but he hasn’t. If this were Trump Jr. it would be all over the MSM 24/7. We had the Russia hoax given credibility for three years and there was not one shred of evidence. Now, there is evidence and witnesses against Biden and NPR calls covering it “a waste of time.” They just have to get him past election day and they won’t care if he resigns, because that’s been the plan all along. It will be swept under the rug, just like Hillary’s destruction of evidence and willful negligence. There are two American justice systems: one for Democratic politicians and one for everyone else. The system is rigged: for Democratic politicians.
Gary R says
OR better yet Nancy Pelosi, Adam Sciff, and Jerry Nadler. LMAO People need stimulus checks Nancy.
You forgot Schumer. They allneed to go both sides
Say NO to the internet says
America……for CHRIST SAKES calm down and use the brain GOD gave you to figure out these things in life. Cut your damn internet off and put your cell phone down for 1 month. YOUR LOSING IT PEOPLE !!!!!
No one in the world can threaten me on who to vote for. I strongly believe Russia is helping Trump in this election again, after all Trump does all of their dirty work for them and he probably owes them millions of dollars. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure that one out.
Trump lies and has cheated all his life that is what con men do and at his age doing it for so long he is really good at it.
He is a disgrace to our people and our country.
What dirty work would that be? By the way, you can keep your doctor and you will save $2500 a year on our healthcare.
Welcome to the 21st Century! With technology that is well over 10 years old, using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) for only about $10 a month, anyone can send out emails that look like they come from a long list of other countries. . . the IP address is almost untraceable. Therefore only the FBI or NSA would be able to determine where those emails originated.
The Ayatollahs must have written the troll scripts…really subtle and sophisticated stuff.