Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Monday he was not concerned about the optics of his office launching an investigation into the Democratic Party of Georgia hours before voters head to the polls.
Meanwhile, the GBI said in a statement Monday that the Secretary of State’s Office requested an investigation, and the bureau opened its own criminal investigation into allegations of computer crimes.
The GOP nominee for governor said his office is handling its probe, which alleges that someone made a failed attempt to hack the state's voter registration system, just as it would any other cybersecurity investigation.
Kemp’s office has not produced evidence implicating the Democratic Party.
“I’m not worried about how it looks. I’m doing my job,” Kemp told reporters after a pre-election rally at the DeKalb Peachtree Airport. “This is how we would handle any investigation when something like this comes up. Because I can assure you if I hadn’t done anything and the story came out that something was going on, you’d be going ‘why didn’t you act?’”
The Republican insisted the state's voting system is secure, even as the FBI, GBI and U.S. Department of Homeland Security have gotten involved in the investigation.
The Secretary of State’s office circulated a press release Sunday morning announcing it was investigating the Democratic Party of Georgia for its alleged role in an unsuccessful attempt to penetrate the state’s registration system the day prior. Later Sunday, it requested an FBI investigation of “possible cyber crimes,” but it offered no details or concrete evidence about the potential crimes committed.
Democrats have vehemently rejected the allegations and argued that Kemp is trying to cover up vulnerabilities that could expose voters’ personal information.
PDF: Read Democratic emails about the alleged hack
Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams, speaking with the media after a morning rally at the longshoremen’s hall in Savannah,accused Kemp of not being truthful about the hacking claims.
“He ignored the warnings; he then made up a lie,” she said. “And he’s now trying to stick to it because he knows that once again he’s proven that he is abusing his power as secretary of state and as a candidate for this office.”
Abrams described Kemp’s investigation of the Georgia Democratic Party as a witch hunt.
“The whole notion of a witch hunt is that you’re looking for something that isn’t real, but you can’t prove that it’s not real because it never existed,” she said. “There was never a hack. There was never a problem on the side of the Democratic Party. What was wrong is that he failed to do his job. He is abusing his power.”
Kemp would not comment on the specifics of the probe beyond stating that he immediately contacted state and federal investigators, whom his office has plans to meet with today.
“The system is secure and we’re asking them to look into it,” he said.
Abrams said that Democrats had discovered a flaw in the voting system that allowed personal information to be exposed, although there is no evidence any private information ever leaked.
Democrats have called on Kemp to resign as the state's top election official while he's also running to be governor in order to avoid conflicts of interest.
Kemp's move to publicly disclose the probe raised the eyebrows of some former elections officials, who feared it could depress voter turnout or undermine trust in the election system. The Republican rejected such claims on Monday.