As Rep. Brian Mast, R-Palm City, hosts a town hall meeting tonight in Martin County, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee has bought online ads that depict Mast and Russian President Vladimir Putin and highlight a Wall Street Journal article that says a former Mast consultant used information the Russians stole from the DCCC’s computers in 2016.
The Journal reported last month that South Florida blogger and Republican operative Aaron Nevins was given stolen data on Democratic voters in Palm Beach-Treasure Coast District 18 by Guccifer 2.0, the anonymous hacker who has been linked to Russia. The article quotes consultant Anthony Bustamante, who worked on Mast’s GOP primary campaign, as saying he received some of the information and “did adjust some voting targets based on some data I saw from the leaks” to alter TV ad buys and mail before the November election, in which Mast defeated Democrat Randy Perkins by 10.5 points.
Mast’s campaign says it ended its relationship with Bustamante on June 30. But Bustamante received an $870 payment on Sept. 1 for robocalls aimed at Republican voters before the Aug. 30 primary. The campaign says Bustamante wasn’t involved in TV buys or mail for the general election.
The Democratic ads urge voters to grill Mast about the Russia links.
“Congressman Mast’s campaign used information hacked and stolen by Russia and then changed their story when they were caught lying about it. Why is he hiding the truth about using information stolen by America’s adversaries to win an election?” says the Democratic ad.
Mast’s 2016 campaign communications director, now a spokeswoman with the National Republican Congressional Committee, blasted the DCCC ads.
“This ridiculous lie shows just how desperate national Democrats are in the 18th District,” said Maddie Anderson. “They’ve resorted to spreading fake news that attacks the integrity, service and patriotism of a 12-year Army veteran who lost both of his legs in service to our country. It’s becoming increasingly clear that the Democrats have nobody and nothing positive to run on in the 18th District. It is unsurprising that the DCCC’s major move of the day is to lie to voters about a war hero’s commitment to the United States.”