U.S. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi warned other Democratic lawmakers on Saturday not TO answer their phones or read incoming text messages after she received a deluge of "obscene and sick" calls and texts following a hacker's release of personal information about nearly 200 lawmakers.
A computer hacker who calls himself Guccifer 2.0 has posted statements online saying he carried out two breaches of U.S. Democratic Party organizations - the latest release of personal data and last month's disclosure of Democratic leaders' private email messages.
Pages maintained by the hacker on Wordpress.com were updated Friday to display email addresses, personal cellphone numbers, home addresses and other personal information. The disclosures were about 194 former and present members of Congress, their schedulers and their press secretaries, among others.
Reports such as Pelosi's indicate the information may be genuine, but not for long.
The House Democratic leader said she is changing her telephone number, and she advised her colleagues to do the same.
"This is a sad course of events, not only for us, but more importantly, for our country," Pelosi said.
Justifying his actions, the hacker said the U.S. presidential election this year is "becoming a farce." Referring to the earlier intrusion at the Democratic National Committee, which revealed that party operatives may have improperly favored Hillary Clinton during the primary elections that preceded last month's nominating convention, Guccifer wrote that the hack showed that "everything is being settled behind the scenes."
The 20,000 emails that were exposed included a number of private notes showing that DNC officials were sharply critical of U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton's main opponent in the party's nominating contest. Many of the Vermont senator's supporters were enraged by what they as evidence that the party was tipping the scales in favor of Clinton.
The hacker stated that the latest penetration of the Democratic Party's computer network was not difficult, noting that finding lawmakers' personal data "was even easier than in the case of the DNC breach."
Although the contact information that was exposed did not appear to be damaging or greatly embarrassing, lawmakers are concerned that their personal emails are now at risk.
Congressman Ben Ray Luján of New Mexico, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, was to hold a conference call with lawmakers and cybersecurity experts Saturday evening, The Associated Press reported.
Guccifer's blog post included a screen shot of an email sent from a DCCC official enclosing passwords - which the hacker noted were shockingly simple - to access certain tax databases.
Several campaign documents were also posted, including one recounting an incident where a congressman was forced to return a previously accepted check for $200,000 from a single donor, saying he was not aware of the federal rule limiting election contributions to $2,700 per person.
Democratic Party officials have said they believe Russia was behind both of their computer breaches, and this has heightened suspicions that Moscow is trying to influence the U.S. presidential election in favor of Republican candidate Donald Trump.