Image by CeruleanSon from Pixabay

Back during the shameful spectacle of the Kavanaugh hearing when a man of unblemished character was subject to public vilification by a deranged political activist abetted by the national media, the home address and personal telephone numbers of GOP senators Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Lindsey Graham, and Orrin Hatch were posted to their Wikipedia pages. The vandal threatened more disclosures and even left a taunt on Paul’s Wikipedia page: “Send us bitcoins.”

The culprit was quickly arrested. It was a 27-year-old former staffer in the office of Democrat Maggie Hassan named Jackson Cosko.

Cosko had been fired from Hassan’s office but was able to get a former colleague (or perhaps more than colleague) to give him the keys to the office. He entered off hours an at night and downloaded an undisclosed amount of sensitive information, described as being “terabytes of data,” and took it home with him. He also installed keyloggers on computers in the offices he visited to record login information. All of this escaped the notice of the people who are charged with information security on Capitol Hill.

Today the bill came due:

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Hogan said the sentence for Jackson Cosko, 27, was needed to send a signal that criminal harassment driven by political motives would be punished severely in an era marked by extreme political polarization.

“We have…a society that has become very vicious,” Hogan said. “It’s very concerning to the court and unfortunate that you played into that.”

In April, Cosko pleaded guilty to five felonies, admitting that after being fired last year from his work as a systems administrator on Hassan’s staff, he repeatedly used a colleague’s key to enter the office, install keylogging equipment that stole work and personal email passwords, and downloaded a massive trove of data from Senate systems.

Prosecutors had asked for 57 months, the defense requested 24 months.

At the same time, the woman who loaned Cosko her office keys so he could steal the “terabytes of data,” former Democrat staffer, Samantha Deforest-Davis, got a real sweetheart deal and was allowed to plead guilty to a pair of misdemeanors.

Deforest-Davis worked as a staff assistant in Hassan’s office from April 2017 until last December, when she was fired over her involvement in Cosko’s scheme, a Senate aide said.

Prosecutors say that after Cosko was fired from Hassan’s office last year, he used Davis’s keys to repeatedly return to the office, copy dozens of gigabytes of sensitive data, and install sophisticated keyloggers that captured the work and personal computer passwords of Hassan staffers as they logged in.

Prosecutors say Davis didn’t give Cosko permission to use her keys the first time he surreptitiously entered Hassan’s office, but Davis later agreed to loan Cosko her office key and agreed to “wipe down” computers in the office to erase traces of Cosko’s fingerprints. Davis and Cosko had a “close relationship” and she also owed borrowed money from Cosko to pay her rent, court papers say.

The four years that Cosko received is nowhere near sufficiently severe to send a message of any type to anyone. On the whole, when one compares it to similar convictions…and the case of the guy who hacked hospital files to try to help a young woman being held in a neo-Soviet psychiatric unit in Massachusetts, Marty Gottesfeld, comes to mind…one can see the inherent benefit of having rich parents who are major political donors and working as a Democrat staffer in what is a Democrat town. Cosko got four years for an act of what can only be called domestic terrorism. Gottesfeld got 10 for exposing abuse and corruption. Deforest-Davis will get some community service bullsh** and probably become an MSNBC contributor.

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