A former congressional staffer, 27-year-old Jackson A. Cosko, has pleaded guilty to five federal offenses that come from illegally posting on the Internet the home addresses and telephone numbers of five Republican senators who supported the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. According to a statement released by the Justice Department on Friday, Cosko is looking at a possible prison sentence of at least 30 months and as much as 57 months.
Among Cosko’s offenses include computer fraud, witness tampering, making restricted personal information public, and obstruction of justice. Cosko previously worked as a computer systems administrator in Sen. Maggie Hassan’s office. According to court records, because of his position in Hassan’s office, Cosko was provided with “intimate knowledge of, and broad access to” the computer systems.
Cosko was fired from his job in Hassan’s office in May 2018 for failing to follow office procedures, which caused him to lose his access to the computer systems in the office. “We did not have reason to believe that he posed a risk,” said a spokesman for Hassan last year.
According to court records, Cosko was angry about being fired and he began to launch an “extensive computer fraud and data theft scheme that he carried out by repeatedly burglarizing Senator Hasan’s office.”
While he was committing computer fraud, Cosko copied an incredible number of gigabytes of information from the computer systems in Hassan’s office, including plenty of usernames and passwords that belonged to Senate employees including “contact information for numerous sitting U.S. senators.”
As Cosko was watching the TV coverage of Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he became angry at several of the Senate members that were a part of the Judiciary Committee. According to court records, he used that anger by “maliciously publishing” the personal home addresses and phone numbers of Lindsey Graham, Orrin Hatch, and Mike Lee on Wikipedia. After 42 years, Hatch retired from the Senate.
According to court records, Cosko released the information in hopes of giving the information to people who would use it to intimidate the senators and their immediate family members. He planned on doing the same thing when he published the personal contact information for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sen. Rand Paul a few days later.
According to a statement issued by the Justice Department, Cosko threatened someone who saw him at the computer in Hassan’s office on October 2. The witness, who hasn’t been identified by name, confronted Cosko, who immediately left the office.
Cosko later sent an email threatening the witness, saying: “I own EVERYTHING.” He also warned the person by saying: “If you tell anyone I will leak it all.” The U.S. Capitol Police arrested him the following day.
As of late, Cosko’s most recent job was as an unpaid intern in the office of Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee. Once the congresswoman found out about Cosko’s arrest, she immediately fired him. Cosko is waiting to be sentenced in Washington on June 13.