Democratic Leader Pelosi Warns Caucus: Don’t Let Your Kids Check Your Messages

Following the Russian hack of DCCC computer files, US House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi sent a lengthy email to the Democratic Caucus offering both an update and an admonish mentioned.

Leader Pelosi detailed her own personal experience thus far reporting to her colleagues that she received “scores” of mostly “obscene” and “sick” emails, text messages, and voicemails.

She then urged Caucus members not to let their kids check their messages or answer their phones.

The DCCC was first attacked and victimized by foreign cyber-terrorists using a cyber attack  and now must expect to be attacked and victimized by partisan-terrorists using obscenities and harassment.

Domestic partisans carrying out the dirty work of international terrorists…this is truly a cycle for the history books, and the chapter will be a shameful one.

August 13, 2016



Dear Democratic Colleague,


As you are aware, the DCCC and other Democratic Party entities have been the target of cybersecurity intrusions – an electronic Watergate break-in.


As of last night, a mix of personal and official information of Democratic Members and hundreds of congressional staff, purportedly from a hack of the DCCC, was posted online.


This incident has been widely reported as part of a Russian cyber-attack.  As reported, the DCCC has hired a respected cybersecurity technology firm to conduct a full investigation of the breach.  With last night’s public posting, the following actions have been taken:


1.      The Chief Information Security Officer of the House, in coordination with the Sergeant-at-Arms and Capitol Police, has sent communications to those whose email addresses have been made public, with guidance on how to address the situation.  The House Chief Administrative Officer has also sent a campus-wide email stating that the House IT system has not been compromised, urging Members and staff to be vigilant opening emails and visiting websites, and reiterating the security steps suggested by the CIO.


2.      Kelly Ward, the Executive Director of the DCCC, has sent an email to Members and chiefs of staff who were listed online, which provides additional guidance beyond the CIO’s email.


3.      Chairman Luján has set up a Members’ call at 6:00pm Eastern today with a senior representative from the Sergeant-At-Arms office, and cybersecurity experts who have been investigating and responding to the breach to provide an update and some security guidance to Members.


We understand that there is an ongoing threat assessment by Capitol Police and the Sergeant-at-Arms.


On a personal note, I was in the air flying from Florida to California when the news broke. Upon landing, I have received scores of mostly obscene and sick calls, voicemails and text messages.


Please be careful not to allow your children or family members to answer your phone or read incoming text messages.  This morning, I am changing my phone number and I advise you to do so as well.  Until that process is complete, you may reach me by leaving a message through my office line at(202) 225-0100.  We will regularly be checking for voicemails and I will be returning calls.


This is a sad course of events, not only for us, but more importantly for our country. I hope you can join us on the 6:00pm call with Chairman Luján. Please note this call is in addition to the already scheduled Caucus call by Chairman Becerra for Tuesday at 1:00pm Eastern.


The memos from the House CIO, CAO and the DCCC contain important guidance, and they are attached to this communication below.  

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See It Here: House CAO Sends Email Regarding DCCC Hack

In response to the latest Russian hack of Democratic Party infrastructure which hit the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), the Chief Administrative Officer of the United States House of Representatives dispatched an email (pasted below) to members and staff this morning, nearly 24 hours after their personal data was released on the internet, including personal cell phone numbers, personal email addresses, and contact information for key staff like Chiefs of Staff, Legislative Directors, Finance Directors, and Campaign Managers:

Date: August 13, 2016 at 9:42:20 AM PDT
Subject: Message from the House Chief Administrative Officer: Reference Potential of Personal Account Information Disclosure.

Good AfternoonAccording to recent press reports, a hacker uploaded an Excel file to the Internet that includes a mix of House and/or personal email and cell phone numbers of nearly every Democratic Member of the House of Representatives, as well as several Republicans. In announcing the leak of the document, it was reported that the spreadsheet was stolen during a hack of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.There has been no compromise to any House IT system.The CAO, in consultation with the Committee on House Administration, has been in touch with the offices who were listed in the document. Additionally, a message went out to all Systems Administrators earlier this morning.First, please do not visit any website that may have posted the Excel spreadsheet. It may be a source of malware that could compromise the House IT network and your data.As an important reminder to all House employees, consider the following, if anybody in your office is receiving suspicious or questionable emails (regardless if this is their House or non-House email address), their name along with a personal email address was possibly posted to the Internet.1. Change passwords to all email accounts that they use. Strongly consider changing their non-House email addresses if possible. Strongly consider changing passwords associated with sensitive personal accounts such as banking institutions.2. If they wish to have their House email or phone number changed, please call or email the CAO Technology Service Desk at 202-225-6002 or 1-800-HIR-USER Because of the threat of spear phishing, be extremely suspicious of any links that they receive in any email.3. Members and staff should contact United States Capitol Police Threat Assessment Section at 202-224-1495 and local police should they receive any threats or observe suspicious activity. If you have questions regarding the spreadsheet please call the Technology Service Desk at the number below. Call or email the CAO Technology Service Desk at202-225-6002 or 1-800-HIR-USER for any questions.
Sincerely,Philip G. KikoChief Administrative Officer

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The Authenticity Election

The rise of the unlikely candidacies of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders has seemingly come as a surprise to a lot of folks, but it shouldn’t. Every election has a personality…a veritable stream of shared consciousness…and this one is no different.

In modern times we have many, including “Hope” in 1992″, “Soccer Moms” in 1996, “Security Moms” in 2004, “Enough is Enough” in 2006, “Change” in 2008, and now, “Authenticity”.

After decades of “made for tv” candidates–which, ironically, Trump actually is–the patience of the electorate is exhausted from the perfect hair, in the perfect outfit, with the perfect backdrop of “real America”, reading perfectly poll-tested lines from a teleprompter.

It is the implied social contract of political campaigning that we all accept and understand: this candidate is intentionally telling us things that he or she knows to be a) false, b) impossible, c) both. We go along with it and clap politely at all of the appropriate times because we think that despite the pageantry and bullshit our candidate is the best.

Let’s just be honest, we’ve all had enough.

We are ready for a candidate who may have slightly mussed hair, may curse at both appropriate (and inappropriate) times, may say something off script…something that may even be [gasp] not politically correct.

They are not worried about how the media pool will report it. You know why? Because they are real people, living in the moment, speaking from the hip and from the heart. They are candidates comfortable in their own skin and telling the electorate, “Here I am! I have dry scalp, orange skin, wild ideas (that you actually kind of agree with in one way or another), and I’m very likely to say something crazy at any point. Vote for me, vote against me, I don’t care.”

And, based on both the results from Iowa and New Hampshire, and the national polls, it’s working.

You know why? Because it implies authenticity. It means they are real. We can identify with someone real. In this day and age of politics the electorate is willing to support someone they do not agree 100% with if they find them to be authentic, honest, and credible.

It is the difference between watching the WWE and the UFC. It is about true belief, not the suspension of disbelief.

The so-called rise of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump isn’t attributable to some mass psychotic break by the electorate. It is directly attributable to election after election of candidates that held more in common with a display at Madame Tussaud’s than real people.

Authentic candidates will continue to do well, but the biggest threat to the more traditional candidacies of Jeb Bush and Hillary Clinton isn’t the two guys currently leading the authenticity primary , it is former New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg.

He is a Democrat-turned-Republican, philanthropist, multi-billionaire who is keen to take on guns (both legal and illegal), crime, public health, and affordable housing. He has unlimited access to money and isn’t moored to the dogma of a party. He’s Ross Perot without the crazy VP pick or the grating voice and staccato delivery.

Based on the chaos created by the authenticity election, Bloomberg is better positioned than any third-party candidate since ol’ TR and the Bull Moose Party. The kicker? He has all of the authenticity with none of the crazy. He is the 800-pound gorilla in the room ready to wreck the Tea Party, both literally and figuratively.

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Crosspost: The San Antonio Civil War of 2015

As seen on

Strother: The San Antonio Civil War of 2015

Colin Strother, a strategist on the Jose Menendez for Senate campaign, pulls the curtain back on how they were able to pull of what many in the capitol community saw as a huge upset over Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer 

Editor’s note: Quorum Report has previously reported on the analysis offered by Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer about the tough race in which he was defeated by Sen. Jose Menendez. We now offer the other side of the argument for your consideration – SB

I’ve been on more than a few underdog campaigns.

In 2004 I engineered the defeat of then-Congressman Ciro Rodriguez in the Democratic Primary and defended the seat two years later. To say we beat the establishment is an understatement. Trial lawyers, environmentalists, labor, and party officials (including the state party chair) marshaled all of their resources against us to no avail.

The special election and runoff to replace former Sen. Leticia Van de Putte in 2015 looked the same on paper: A largely ineffective yet beloved partisan in Trey Martinez Fischerchallenged by Jose Menendez, a commonsense problem solver with relationships across the aisle and an unparalleled work ethic.

The San Antonio Civil War of 2015, as I’ll call it, wasn’t exactly brother against brother (although media consultant James Alderete was with Trey while his brother Eddie Alderetewas with Jose), but it pitted neighbor against neighbor and friend against friend. Although I was Jose’s first Chief of Staff I am also friends with Trey.

Since the 19-point win we laid on the favorite I haven’t had many questions about why or how we did it. Instead, it’s mainly been met with astonishment. After all, Trey was supposed to be the roughest, toughest, rootinist, tootinist, guy West of the Brazos.


He was a paper tiger who had never been in a real fight, but was certain that if he ended up in one he could whip anyone. He took bad advice from bad consultants who were unable to overcome 14 years of Trey painting himself into a hyper-partisan corner.

Trey had spent years cultivating his brand as a partisan “fighter” and focused on getting headlines. Jose, on the other, hand spent nearly the exact same amount of time just being Jose: building trust and good will both in the district and in Austin, getting to the table where decisions were being made, and getting results.

When voters – Democratic voters – were presented with the empirical evidence, they chose the work horse over the show pony.

When Democrats found out that he was receiving tens of thousands of dollars from Republican donors like predatory lender Trevor Ahlberg they either voted against him or stayed home (either outcome a victory for us). When Democrats found out that he represented money laundering clients and profited from insurance lawsuits while serving on the committee that regulates insurance companies they were repulsed in a way far exceeding our hopes.

Do not believe the amateurish “analysis” that says State Senator Jose Menendez was elected by Republicans. The data paints a decidedly different picture.

In fact, even if zero Republicans voted in the runoff Senator Menéndez still wins by 922 votes – not exactly a squeaker.

The fact is that in the entire runoff we did not target a single Republican. If a Republican got one of our mailers or a doorknock it was either an accident or the result of a house divided. We beat Trey with Democrats by exposing who he really is. We did it without the glitz and the headlines, just the raw data about who was funding him, his voting record, and his lack of a legislative record.

So how did we do it? I’m glad you asked. It was simpler than one might imagine.

First, we assembled a team of worker bees and eschewed queens. Second, we challenged the candidate and committed him to a plan based on data instead of daydreams. Third, we went old school: ID, persuade, and turnout.

In fact, if I had my way we would not have spent one penny on television. I felt it was an exercise in vanity and the results from the first round of the Special Election backed that up. But, the truth was that donors expected to see us on television and see that we were competitive in terms of our buy versus Trey’s buy. We had to spend money on a worthless endeavor in order to make money for our worthwhile endeavors.

We obliterated any semblance of an echo chamber and fostered a culture that could only be described as “perpetual disagreement” where every idea, strategy, and message was rigorously debated, cussed, discussed, and honed until it was beyond good.

We played for the win from day one in both the first round and the runoff. Trey on the other hand was urged on by ego and bad advice to pursue an outright victory without a runoff. (He spent $1 million in the first round ($144 per vote!) and was left with an empty tank for the Runoff Election. In fact, if it were not for a $250,000 check from Steve Mostyn just before the 8-day report in the runoff Trey would have reported about $26,000 cash on hand.)

While Trey narrowed his path to victory at every turn until it was the width of a soup spoon we widened our path to victory at every turn until it was the size of a superhighway. He ended up needing to thread the eye of a needle from 100 yards and we ended up needing to throw a hotdog down a hallway.

Ultimately this race reflected the personalities of the two candidates.

Trey tried to muscle all Democrats into turning out while Jose worked to persuade targeted Democrats that he was the better option and turn out only the ones who supported him. Our campaign made decisions based on a desired electoral outcome rather than a desired profit margin for the consultants involved.

In fact, at a meeting with potential donors a prominent member of the San Antonio business community held up our budget and pointed out how low our administrative costs and overhead were and used that as a motivational factor to raise more money for our effort.

We put the rubber to the road instead of the money in our pockets. Campaign Manager Kevin Lopez worked for a pittance. Media and mail were done for cost by Laura BarberenaSean Gagen at Grassroots Solutions completed 97% of our targeted door contacts in less than three weeks for only $45,000. Sandra Hernandez at Prestige Printing cranked out our printed materials at the speed of light at a price far below market rate. If you wanted that new deck for the Summer, this wasn’t the campaign for you.

We knew we needed to be nearly perfect, and we damn near were.

The San Antonio Civil War of 2015 was one for the ages. The contrast in the styles of the candidates was manifested in the styles of the respective campaigns. It was tough for everyone involved and I suspect that some relationships will never be repaired. In the final analysis, the right man won, the best campaign won, and the families of the 26th Senatorial District won big.

Colin Strother is an Austin-based political scientist and Democratic political consultant. He was a strategist on the Menendez for Senate Campaign. He can be found at

The complete column from Colin Strother can be found in the R&D Department.

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Governor Greg Abbott Inaugural Address Word Cloud

Not wanting our new Governor to feel left out, I gave Governor Greg Abbott’s inaugural address the Word Cloud treatment. “Texas” seemed to be on his mind.

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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Inaugural Speech Word Cloud

An interesting way to look at Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s inaugural speech. Behold, the Word Cloud!

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For Texas Democrats Same Song, Sixth Verse

Stop me if you heard this one before: Texas Democrats get their asses handed to them in a mid-term election.

Unfortunately for me, I have heard it six times in six midterms. I recall moving to Austin in the Summer of 1994 (man, that was a great summer) and joining the staff of Comptroller John Sharp just in time for the credits to roll on the reign of the Democrat in Texas. Not only did Governor Ann Richards lose, but the so-called Republican Revolution decimated the Congress. We were 7 for 8 on statewides.

Bump in the road. Still have a great bench. Coming back next cycle.

In 1998, we ran a proven statewide winner, four-term Land Commissioner Garry Mauro. He was a FOB (Friend of Bill) and had what was at the time the best database of voters and Democratic activists statewide. He also had a very capable staff of battle-hardened veterans. Unfortunately for former Commissioner Mauro, he was getting on the tracks in front of the W train that was headed full speed for DC. There was no lift at the top of the ticket and the two most important races on the ballot–Lieutenant Governor and Comptroller–lost by the narrowest of margins (68,000 for Lt Guv & 20,000 for Comptroller). We went 0 for 14 on statewides.

But we had a plan.

2002. New guy. You’ve never heard of him. More money than sense. Hispanic. He can self-fund and awaken the sleeping giant of Hispanic voters. A triple threat if there ever was one. Bested Mauro’s margin by a full 8 points…but still couldn’t break 40%. There was no lift at the top of the ticket and the most important race on the ballot–Lieutenant Governor–lost by 260,000 votes. We went 0 for 15 on statewides.

Clearly, we were in a free fall. The so-called “Dream Team” had been a nightmare. I was livid.

On the way home from a campaign watch party at 1am I started making calls. This can’t stand, I said. We’ve got to do something different, I said. Everyone I spoke to over the next week agreed. After raising holy hell for two months for the ouster of then-TDP Party Chair and “mastermind” of the Dream Team, Molly Beth Malcolm, a vote of no confidence was held by the SDEC. I think we got two whole votes, but she resigned a few months later. Mission accomplished? This is the trough of our lifecycle, right. Um, no.

We slept through 2006 with a nice, but weak candidate who had tens of thousands of votes siphoned off by two Independent candidates (29%, by the way). No lift at the top of the ticket. Didn’t matter. When you sleep walk you don’t really care what is going on around you. We went 0 for 15 on statewides.

We’ll get them next time because W won’t be on the ballot. LOL.

2010. New guy. Unless you live in Houston, you’ve never heard of him. FOB. Can raise money. South Texas roots. Can raise money. He’ll make us competitive in East Texas again. Can raise money. In a wave election, former Houston Mayor Bill White got the best percentage of a gubernatorial candidate since Richards (42%), but was widely criticized for being a bad candidate. No lift at the top of the ticket despite a $10 million IE attacking Governor Rick Perry. 2010 made 2002 look like a success. From a near majority in the Texas House in 2008 to a 100-seat majority for the Republicans. We went 0 for 14 on statewides.

Sigh. No one knew what to do and no one really was in a position to complain. We were 0 for 58 in the prior 4 cycles.

2014. New gal. Good news: you’ve heard of her. Bad news: you’ve only heard of her because of her filibuster of a late-term abortion bill. Smart. Attractive. Ignites the base. Can raise money. Great back story. With the support of Battleground Texas and the Obama-ites she’ll swing suburban woman, bring new people to the polls, get the base fired up. No lift at the top of the ticket and the most important race on the ballot–Lieutenant Governor–lost by 900,000 votes. We went 0 for 14 on statewides.

In the words of the late, great Robin Williams in his best performance (The Survivors), “What do we do now, Sonny?”

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#VoterGames 2014: Track voter turnout via Facebook

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One of the truly great things about social media and technology is the real-time analytics that can tell you what is happening around you.

On Twitter it manifests as “trending” topics. This election on Facebook you can see voting participation as projected on a map of the United States that includes when Election Day across the country begins and ends, how many people are voting per hour, where they live, and some of their demographic information.

Check it out at the link below.

This map is live and is constantly updating based on who is posting that they have voted. That button looks like this:

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Make sure to click the “VOTE” button so that your friends and followers know you have stopped talking about what’s wrong with your city/state/country and started doing something about it.


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The Voter Games: It’s 7 days out, do you know who your voters are?

Every cycle I find myself visiting with candidates at all levels who have gone through all of the stereotypical moves one thinks a campaign needs: logo, website, Facebook, Twitter, signs of various sizes, letterhead, contribution envelope, bumper sticker, pushcard, and t-shirt. From all outward appearances they have a campaign.

After two basic questions it becomes obvious that most candidates lack the basic facts and data one would need to mount a real campaign.

Question #1

Me: What’s your magic number?

Candidate: What’s that?

Me: The number of votes you need to win?

Candidate: Oh, I don’t know. I think there were about (crazy guess that’s always way off) voters last election.

Me: The last midterm or presidential?

Candidate: I don’t know. I think presidential. Is that important?

Question #2

Me: How many positive IDs do you have?

Candidate: What do you mean?

Me: How many people have said they will vote for you?

Candidate: I think there’s a lot of support out there. I was endorsed by (fill in the blank) and I think that will help.

Me: So do you have a list of yeses…of people who said they would vote for you?

Candidate: How/Where do I get that?

It doesn’t matter how many t-shirts you’ve given to casual supporters and people you will never see again, it doesn’t matter how many bumper stickers are sitting on a shelf in your HQ that will never see the light of day, and, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here, but it really doesn’t matter how many yard signs you have randomly put out if you don’t know the answer to these two basic questions about your electorate.

Questions 1 & 2 come in that order because that is the order one should employ in a campaign: if I need 10,500 votes to get to 50%, I need to accumulate at least 10,501 positive IDs in order to stand a snowball’s chance in Hell of winning. You can go a little out of order and start accumulating positives before you know your magic number, but sooner or later you must know how many you need or you will not know when to stop accumulating and shift to other activities like suppression and GOTV.

The good news is that if you have not figured out your magic number by 7 days out, it isn’t too late.

The bad news is that if you have not accumulated enough positive IDs (or any, as is frequently the case), it is too late.

The final week of a campaign should be entirely centered around getting your positives out to vote. If you have no list to get out, you have all of the accoutrement of a campaign but no real campaign. You have effectively bought an election lottery ticket: you may win, but it will not be because of your campaign efforts but rather outside forces of which you exerted minimal influence over.

So, if you can answer Questions 1 & 2, congratulations! The onus is now on you and yours to make it happen. If you cannot, may the odds be ever in your favor.

The Voter Games are cruel. There can only be one victor.

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Are you there NSA? It’s me, Colin.

The NSA snooping on the phone calls and emails of American citizens is hardly breaking news. Since it was ratified via the Patriot Act in 2001 , some three-letter outfit or another has been spying on you.

None of this happened by accident.  A leaked NSA Inspector General report detailed exactly how this all came to pass…and it is oddly riveting for a government report.  It explains in elaborate detail how former Vice President Dick Cheney ramrodded the evisceration of Article IV and made certain that every piece of “telephony” and “internet” metadata (a fancy term for the content, rather than the mere physical details of the communication).

As far back as 2006 there were news reports of telecom companies installing splitters and setting up separate rooms to pipe all data directly to the NSA.  The largely ignored USA Today article left little to interpretation, stating:

For the customers of these companies, it means that the government has detailed records of calls they made — across town or across the country — to family members, co-workers, business contacts and others.

But in the second paragraph of the article it got one critical point wrong:

The NSA program reaches into homes and businesses across the nation by amassing information about the calls of ordinary Americans — most of whom aren’t suspected of any crime. This program does not involve the NSA listening to or recording conversations. But the spy agency is using the data to analyze calling patterns in an effort to detect terrorist activity, sources said in separate interviews.

As the aforementioned Inspector General’s report clearly states, metadata was authorized for collection and analysis.

So, why does this matter?

In short, because it violates basic rights guaranteed to us under the Bill of Rights–specifically Articles IV, V, and VI. But in long form, it violates the Social Contract as spelled out famously in John Locke’s Second Treatise of Governmentwhich our Founding Fathers relied heavily on during the drafting of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution.

Due to my work in politics I can guarantee that the NSA has enjoyed an earful and eyeful of my communications with clients as we discussed legislation, positions papers, policy statements, and speeches where words were used that would have certainly set off flashing lights and blaring horns on the NSA software.

A basic search of my email shows 105 emails containing the word “terrorism”, 41 with “bomb”, 9 with “bin Laden”, 85 with “attack”, and 78 with “homeland security”.  I can hardly imagine how many phone conversations I have had with clients where those terms and more were discussed.

If you want to know how often you run afoul of NSA filters, here the list.

So, as the NSA violates my rights by listening to me sing my kids silly songs while I’m on the road, hear about the trials of my Great Grandmother’s bad hip, and listen to my best friend’s endless debate with me on the Designated Hitter and PEDs, they are wasting valuable bandwidth, time, effort, and tax dollars that would otherwise be directed at finding actual terrorists.

The presumption of innocence and freedom from self-incrimination alone should be sufficient to gut any argument in favor of monitoring every communication by an American citizen not suspected of any crime.  In the past, even American citizens suspected of criminal acts were afforded the guarantee that a warrant must be sought out in order for their communications to be monitored, but no longer.  We are all presumed guilty.  That isn’t just sad, it is un-American.

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