UPDATED: Details emerge around Vogel/Reeves email flap

UPDATED: Details emerge around Vogel/Reeves email flap

Records appear to link Sen. Jill Vogel to pseudonymous email attacks on Sen. Bryce Reeves, her chief rival the GOP Lieutenant Governor nod.

As revealed yesterday, there is an apparent link between the household of Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier) and email attacks against her chief rival for the Republican nomination for Lieutenant Governor in 2017. Emails from an apparently fictitious “Martha McDaniel” were circulated in September and October of last year to spread the rumor that Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) had been having a long-running affair with a campaign aide.

Sen. Reeves wasted no time in filing a defamation lawsuit against “Martha McDaniels,” whose only identifying information was a Gmail address suggesting she lived in Stafford County. Reeves’ initial complaint, in which he vigorously denies the charges, was filed on October 3, 2016 in Stafford County Circuit Court, and is embedded below.

Reeves Complaint and Exhibit

“Martha McDaniels” appears now to be a pseudonym for someone operating from the home of Sen. Vogel, or wishing observers to think they were operating from the Vogels’ home.

Pursuant to Reeves’ lawsuit, his counsel were able to secure discovery on Gmail records indicating (a) the cell phone number associated with the “Martha McDaniel” account; (b) the IP addresses used to access the account; and (c) dates the account was accessed, prior to its owner covering his/her tracks by deleting it.

As the following image shows, the cell phone number associated with the account is (202) 669-XXXX (TBE has redacted this information to protect the privacy of its owner).

Google Response to Reeves Subpoena - Redacted

Google Response to Reeves Subpoena – Redacted

That number recently had the following outgoing voicemail message, indicating it belonged to Alex Vogel, husband to Sen. Vogel. This outgoing message was recently removed.

The cell phone is important, as it is the means by which Google verifies ownership of accounts. According to a reputable forensic investigator we consulted on this matter, having a new account associated with an existing account’s phone number is done precisely to avoid the new account (or any existing accounts) being hacked or otherwise compromised, as some verified link beyond the virtual world is required.

The Google information, provided in response to the subpoena from Sen. Reeves’ counsel, also shows two IP addresses as having accessed the account. (Again, TBE has redacted the full addresses to protect the privacy of the owners). Subsequent subpoenas to the internet service providers servicing these IP addresses show them belonging to next door neighbors: one at 10000 Mount Airy Road in Upperville (belonging to Jill and Alex Vogel) and one at 10027 John Mosby Highway in Upperville (belonging to the Vogels’ nearest neighbors, James and Lisa Gable).

ViaSat Subpoena Response - Revised Redactions

ViaSat Subpoena Response – Revised Redactions

CenturyLink Subpoena Responses - Revised Redactions

CenturyLink Subpoena Responses – Revised Redactions

Proximity between Vogel and Gable Homes - Upperville, VA

Proximity between Vogel and Gable Homes – Upperville, VA

As the aerial photo shows, the two properties are near enough that a wi-fi signal from one, particularly if it has an open line of sight, could conceivably be received at the other. According to the Washington Post, the neighbors report sharing an unsecured wireless access system between the two homes, though the record indicates they have separate internet service providers.

It should be reiterated that, in their statement released yesterday, the Vogels vehemently claimed they “have not sent, have not authorized, have not approved, and were not aware of any anonymous communications concerning either of her competitors.” Presumably this also encompasses the pseudonymous emails that are the subject of the Reeves suit. The Vogels also hinted at the possibility of a hack or other compromise of their devices’ security by outsiders may be to blame for the email being traced to their house and Mr. Vogel’s cell phone.

We continue to consult experts on the subject of a potential compromise in the Vogels’ security, and will report on that in a later iteration of this story. So far, the Reeves camp seems eager to test the hacking theory. From the Post:

Reeves’s campaign spokeswoman, Sam Azzarelli, responded to the hacking theory by suggesting that the Vogels agree to have their ‘phones, computers, and electronic devices forensically tested’ by a mutually agreed-upon third party.

‘We will help fund it to find out if they were truly hacked,’ she said.”

As we say, stay tuned…

UPDATE 1: Tom White at VARight has a very interesting technical analysis of the timeline, and when and exactly where the alleged conduct took place. Check it out. White’s analysis shows some potential weaknesses in any civil case that could be brought against the Vogels, and shows a way forward for the hacking defense (And thanks to Tom for pointing out my goof on the redactions. They’ve been fixed now.)

UPDATE 2: Very strong denial from Sen. Vogel herself, published in the Fauquier Times:

‘I am horrified by this and I am as upset as Senator Reeves,’ Vogel said in an email to The Fauquier Times. ‘Unfortunately, we only learned about this in the last few days and we are doing everything in our power to get to the bottom of it.'”

Read the whole thing here.

49 comments

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  • Chris B

    Just a complete embarrassment

  • Rocinante

    The longer it goes on, the worse it gets. This is not something that gets better by staying silent.

    • Eric McGrane

      Who is staying silent? The Vogel camp already issued a statement.

      • Rocinante

        Yes, the “hacking.” Letting it ride is doubling down.

        Perhaps it will all die down and go away. Perhaps people will send flowers to Martha in Upperville.

        It was a political blunder and they got caught. Lessons from Watergate?

  • Sbn

    If smut sells, sell more of it. What was the Reagan commandment again?

    • Jeanine Martin

      It’s a good thing no Republican ever takes a side in a primary. That would violate the 11th commandment, wouldn’t it?

      Of course there are times when we are compelled to criticize a Republican, particularly when they lie and break the law. I continue to hope the Vogels have done neither, but it’s not looking good for them.

      • Sbn

        Eh, everything is negotiable but I would think an ethics lawyer could (should?) be able to figure it out without having to go “there”

        Edit: of course, thinking this through, if he runs w this, it could secure the “grab ’em by the :$&@” voting bloc for him

        • Rocinante

          Drip drip drip, AND the death of a 1000 cuts.

    • Rocinante

      Does that count in primaries?

  • Lee Pillsbury

    So they deny sending ” anonymous emails” eh? Too bad they haven’t denied sending the email in question. Lots of legalese in their statement. Well, actually in their campaign managers statement. Jill seems unwilling to answer these allegations. You would think she would want to help investigate these charges, clear her name and prosecute whoever hacked her system. If thats what happened.

  • Robert Kenyon

    Terrible. Just terrible.

  • Dave Webster

    So now Bryce has to decide whether or not to amend his complaint to join the Vogels as defendants and serve them with discovery requests. Responses to interrogatories are made under oath and subject to penalties for perjury.

    • Rocinante

      So is it a game of political chicken?

      Bryce has nothing to lose by moving ahead Jillex — everything!

      Don’t Blink!

  • Jonathan Erickson

    Ethics or winning, Jill chooses…

    • Rocinante

      I don’t think winning is an option anymore.

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  • Larsele

    Anyone spending any time investigating what Reeves might have been involved in. No defamation if the allegation is true.

    • southernbellefox

      You obviously don’t know Bryce Reeves, or you wouldn’t insinuate what you just did!! He is an honorable man. There is absolutely no truth to the allegations circulated in these emails. This is a clear, unfounded attack on his character and I pray it is fully investigated and the guilty prosecuted.

      • Larsele

        I don’t know either of them but it disturbs me that the “investigation” is decidedly one sided. There were, apparently, rumors floating around so if this is to continue it should include who the staffer was, why she left sudenly, etc. After all, John Edwards was about to become VP of the United States.

        • Lee Pillsbury

          People involved know who the staffer was and she left to go to work for the incoming Trump administration. The investigation has been ” one sided” because only one side was slandered. Bryce Reeves has offered to fund a forensic investigation of the Vogels devices but they have not accepted the opportunity to clear their names and prosecute whoever they claim hacked them. Lastly Bryce Reeves is not an idiot, he wouldn’t risk taking this ,this far if there was any truth to these allegations.

    • Rocinante

      Wasn’t defamation, was a ‘rumor’ from a cell-phone confirmed sock puppet that happened to be owned by Jillex.

  • Chris B

    I’m also sure Ed Gillespie *loves* hearing about Jill Vogel and shady ethical scandals.

    • Rocinante

      It shows that some of our potential nominees have past experience that can help them to avoid the pitfalls of the last Republican Governor.

      Yeah, like this is good for anybody.

      This is what you get with a weak party — still feeling the love?

  • Chad Davis

    The Vogel’s hacking theory is starting to sound like Hunter Biden’s claim that somebody set up a fake Ashley Madison account for him that had all of his personal private information.

  • Donald Plaster

    1. A “hacker” or whoever would need access to the cell phone in question for only a few seconds – to receive and delete a text message with a security confirmation code. So it is possible someone “borrowed” a phone while visiting, and then used their own device on the household open WiFi to do the rest. Just saying, is possible.
    2. One does not need to criticize another Republican in order to take sides in a primary, and thus not violate the 11th Commandment.
    3. I’m not taking sides.

    • Rocinante

      And when that account was accessed from another device, they would have to ‘re-hack’ and delete that notification as well, do we really want to play show and tell between Google logs and “I know nothink!”

  • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

    Steve, I believe that you may be in error when you reference the Vogel “home” in that overhead picture. Where I come from, we would refer to that as a “compound”, not just a home.

    Also, can you tell us just what is in this disclosure for you?

    • Jeanine Martin

      What an idiotic thing to say. It’s news that is very pertinent to folks in Virginia who have an interest in politics. There’s nothing in it for Steve. Nothing.

      • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

        That wasn’t my comment, I been hacked! Help me somebody! Ha, ha, ha,

      • Rocinante

        Well, I think it’s a ‘no’ to all the Vogel online ads.

  • Tyler Pieron

    I hear some of the Vogel supporters trying to push the “we were hacked” narrative, specifically wardriving. Wardriving is the use of software to locate unsecured access points to the Internet while driving around in a vehicle, and is relatively easy to do and can be effective in typical neighborhood, but given the terrain and distances involved at Casa Vogel, these assumptions change. The nearest road is about 450 feet away and the neighbor in which the internet is shared is about 1000 feet away, based on the Fauquier GIS information These distances require a directional antenna with an amplifier, as the signal is highly degraded by both distance and vegetation. Generally, a home wifi router is limited to about 300 feet, give or take. So, in order for someone to ‘wardrive’ their residence, they generally would need to be within 300 feet or so, or in their driveway. On at least 3 occasions and for 45 minutes the day the account was created based on the Google records. And then return to the vicinity of the Vogel residence to delete the account a week later. They would also need to access Mr. Vogel’s cell phone to obtain the authentication code at the precise moment it is sent, then delete it before he sees it, and then use the code to verify the Gmail account. Entirely possible in a technical sense, but highly unlikely.

    This is an image of the distances involved. http://imgur.com/a/dINm5

    • Rocinante

      They musta used drones! And Guy Fawkes masks!

    • Lee Pillsbury

      New talking points out! ” yawn” ” Can’t we talk about issues” and my favorite ” well, even IF the they did it , it’s not LEGALLY defamatory”.

  • Reagan George

    Sorry, but this doesn’t pass the smell test. Anyone with half a brain would have a distant cousin hire a friend in some distant small town in west Texas or Idaho so the crack investigator would be chasing his tail for the next several years and if/when he found something it would not point back to the person who did it.

  • Rocinante

    Ok, time to start the pool:

    1) Holiday-induced nervous breakdown.

    2) Self-medicating an old running injury leads to opiod trouble.

    3) It truly was deported Russians wardriving through Hunt Country on their way to the airport.

    • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

      Ok, how long has Steve known about this? For 3-4 months? Is somebody throwing it out there now to take the focus off what is going on in Washington yesterday and today? Hell, congress threw ethics in the trash can yesterday. That’s a far bigger deal than this.

      Dam right, I question your timing, Mr. Albertson. You are not clean on this.

      • Rocinante

        I have long suspected that the Washington ruling elite often uses TBE to deflect attention from national politics.

        I suspect Cardinal Findlay uses this to his advantage.

        • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

          Say what you want, but there is reason for the timing.

          • Jeanine Martin

            You need to speak with the Washington Post about that. They broke the story.

          • Rocinante

            Findlay with a stopwatch.

        • Reinhardt Reganbacker lll

          And today, the US House took the ethics bill back out of the trash can that they secretly threw it in yesterday, and reinstated it because people like me called up there the first thing this morning and raised so much hell about it. Did you call? I doubt it.

          Jobs. communist China, Mexico, the economy, healthcare.

          Goodlatte, what a loser. idiot, and embarrassment to the Republican Party he is.

          • Rocinante

            Thank goodness no other Virginia legislators supported or climbed on board this horrible notion.

  • Rocinante

    1st Update — Martha used shared neighbors WAP.

    2nd update — parse the statement.

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  • Franklin Fogle

    Perhaps some readers have forgotten some of Vogel’s past dirty tricks,
    but I’ve been keeping an eye on her ever since she, one of her campaign
    staff, and Loudoun County’s Commonwealth Attorney James E. Plowman (R)
    (a donor to Vogel’s campaign) framed her Republican primary challenger
    so she could win the 2007 27th District GOP Virginia Senate primary.
    Unfortunately for her challenger (Mark Tate), he couldn’t prove his
    innocence until after the primary, when those 11 felony charges related
    to campaign fraud were thrown out of court. http://www.washingtonpost.com/
    Regardless, where does a good man go to regain his reputation
    afterward, and this present kerfuffle again reeks of a political hit job
    by Vogel, just as it did in 2007. Should it be proven true, well, at
    the very least, the world should be informed in regards to one Jill
    Vogel, whose entire campaign revolves around “Strong Family Values”.

    • Rocinante

      Walks like a duck…

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