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Cyberattacks Targeted OC Congressional Race, Report Says

SANTA ANA (CBSLA) – The FBI is investigating whether a former Congressional candidate in Orange County was targeted by a series of cyberattacks earlier this summer.

Federal investigators are looking into whether hackers attempted cyberattacks against former Democratic candidate Hans Keirstead, Rolling Stone Magazine reported Wednesday.

Democratic candidate Hans Keirstead
Democratic candidate Hans Keirstead during his run for the California 48th District Congressional seat in Huntington Beach. June 2018. (CBS2)

In the June primary, Keirstead was vying for the hotly-contested 48th District seat currently held by 15-term incumbent Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Huntington Beach).

Keirstead finished a close third behind Rohrabacher and Democrat Harley Rouda in the race. While Rohrabacher finished comfortably in first place with 30.3 percent of the vote, Rouda's 17.3 percent barely edged out Keirstead for second place, with only 115 votes separating the two candidates.

Under California's system, the top two vote-getters advance to the November runoff regardless of party, meaning that Rohrabacher and Rouda will face off in November.

Rolling Stone said it obtained forensic records and emails which confirmed the FBI's investigation into the cyberattacks. The source of the cyberattacks remains unknown and the FBI refused to comment on the case, the magazine reported.

Rohrabacher is considered one of the most pro-Russia members of Congress. Last month, while touring a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement detention facility in Irvine, the congressman got testy during an exchange with reporters regarding his alleged interaction with suspected Russian agent Maria Butina, who was arrested on allegations of trying to infiltrate U.S. pro-gun lobbying groups.

Rohrabacher met with Butina in St. Petersburg in 2015.

In August 2017, Rohrabacher met with WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange at the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, where Assange is living in asylum.

Following the meeting, Rohrabacher claimed that Assange told him that the Russians were not involved in the theft of Democratic National Committee emails during the 2016 presidential campaign. The emails had been published by WikiLeaks.

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