For those who’ve been living in a cave since January 1, the Washington Post on New Year’s Day broke news of allegations that a fake email alleging an adulterous affair on the part of Sen. Bryce Reeves (R-Spotsylvania) had been traced to the residence of Sen. Jill Vogel (R-Fauquier). The two senators are among three current candidates for the Republican nomination for Virginia Lieutenant Governor in 2017.
The allegations rest on responses to subpoenas issued as part of a defamation case brought by Reeves in Stafford County Circuit Court to push back on the fake emails. The responses came from Google (proprietor of the email service used), and two satellite internet service providers serving the Vogels and their next door neighbors, and indicated that the IP addresses used belonged to the Vogels and their neighbors (via a shared WiFi system). The subpoena response from Google also showed that a cell phone number matching that of Vogel’s husband, Alex Vogel, was used in connection with the verification of the email account in question, and acceptance of the Google terms of service on September 22, 2016. The timing of at least a couple of the emails sent from the account matches times shortly after the account was accessed from the IP addresses matching the Vogels’ home. The Reeves campaign has urged that an independent third-party forensic examiner be retained to rule out any involvement by the Vogels, but so far that offer does not appear to have been accepted. Background can be found here and here.
Over most of the last two weeks, the Vogel camp has been publicly quiet about the allegations, except to broadly deny Jill and Alex Vogel had any involvement. That is, until today, when our friends at Bearing Drift published an op-ed from Sen. Vogel in which she expanded on her previous denial.
It is clear from the evidence that we were likely victims of a political stunt, but absent such reckless handling, it was a stunt that could have been managed with far less damage and impact.
In the op-ed, Vogel decries Reeves’ handling of the matter, including its impact on their neighbors, and for the “extortion” by Reeves for his allegedly delivering an ultimatum that she withdraw from the race or face public disclosure of the responses to his subpoenas. She indicates that she and her husband could not have possibly been responsible for the emails in question, because at each of the relevant moments they were not at home (which, by implication, concedes that the evidence points to the emails originating from their home network). Vogel suggests that someone else could have entered their property or its environs to have perpetrated a political dirty trick:
· There is no evidence that any of the Vogel family cell phones accessed or verified the Gmail account in question. Senator Reeves stated that there was such evidence on the John Fredericks Radio Show on January 3, 2017, but no such evidence exists.
For the record, the evidence in question is here:
This is the subpoena response from Google, which indicates that Google terms of service were accepted for a new email account at 9:57 am on September 22, 2016, and that an SMS (text) had been verified to Alex Vogel’s cell phone number for that email address. Vogel is correct that the evidence does not prove any of her family cell phones were used, but it does appear to indicate her husband’s cell phone number was employed. As iCloud users of apps like Apple Messages will know, one does not have to hold a cell phone in order to receive its SMS messages (though the message would still be delivered to the phone).
· On January 3, 2017, Senator Reeves was not truthful when he denied the extortion and threat to go to media if Senator Vogel did not get out of the race. Reporters had confirmed this on background at the time with Senate colleagues who have direct knowledge of the demands made by Senator Reeves.
· Despite Senator Reeves insistence of widespread dissemination, the physical evidence publicly available shows that the Gmail account in question was used to send two emails- both to close friends. It was solely Senator Reeves’ actions in urging the media to publish the email that allowed for wider dissemination. It was entirely avoidable.
Vogel is also correct here, that only two instances of the fake emails in question have been made public. One was sent to Del. Nick Freitas (R-Culpeper), and the other disclosed email was sent to Pastor Travis Witt. The implication from the Reeves camp, however, has been that defamatory emails from this email address were sent to others as well, though we have not seen any evidence of this. In any case, this seems a question of damages, not of liability.
· As reported by the Washington Post, despite having secured household networks, the actual wi-fi access to the internet in the neighborhood was unsecured. This unsecured wi-fi can be accessed around two houses and two roads in the immediate area of the homes.
· The Gmail account was accessed on three days—on 9/22/16 on 9/30/16 and 10/1/16. Using the EST time stamp on these log ins (not the UTC), it has been established that at 9:57 am on 9/22/16, Senator Vogel was in Fredericksburg meeting with a supporter and her husband was at a meeting at their children’s school which is in Middleburg. At the time the account was accessed on 9/22/16, Senator Vogel was in Northern Virginia preparing for an event. Her husband was participating in a conference call for work. On 9/30/16, the Vogels were at a nephew’s birthday party in Mt. Jackson, Virginia when the account was accessed. On the date and time of the final access to this account on 10/01/16 at 7:23pm, Senator Vogel was at a dinner in Richmond, also attended by Senator Reeves, photos of which are online.
This last bit is the closest thing to actual exculpatory evidence we’ve seen. Assuming this is all true, then we’re looking at either someone actually hacking the Vogels, or someone else associated with the Vogels who is responsible and who was at or near their home. This person would seemingly need to access to some device, like an Apple iCloud device, capable of receiving texts from Alex Vogel’s account while they were logged into their home network.
The Reeves campaign, for their part, is having none of this. We spoke to Reeves’ campaign manager, Jordan Wiggins, earlier today, who again challenged Sen. Vogel to allow examination by an independent third-party forensic examiner:
If Senator Vogel truly believes she was hacked – or that this is some political stunt – why won’t she agree to the offer Bryce made 13 days ago to have an independent, third party investigator test their electronic devices? Right now the evidence and the facts all point to the Vogels – facts and evidence from Google and other independent sources. Instead of trying to muddy the waters and attempt to deceive Virginia voters, she can simply turn over her devices to a third party and put this behind us.” – Jordan Wiggins, Campaign Manager, Reeves for Lt. Governor
Without a detailed forensic examination of the Vogels’ devices, and possibly also production of relevant cell tower records, we may not ever have “beyond a shadow of a doubt” certainty here.
My take? Sen. Vogel is betting that’s not going to happen, and by her op-ed today, she is calling Sen. Reeves’ bluff. She’s betting that Reeves won’t have the financial or intestinal fortitude to take this to the next level (e.g., by naming her and her husband as defendants in his defamation suit), and actually bring this to a conclusion.
It will be interesting to see whether she’s right.
[…] seems determined not to let the recent email scandal involving fake emails apparently sent from the Vogel house or its envrions (which Vogel claims had to have come from someone else) get swept under the rug or forgotten. His […]
Cersei has spoken.
Who are you to doubt her?
I won’t vote either one.
Why does the GOP do this to themselves
They both need to drop out.
What ever mea culpa some may feel necessary I grant in advance but I believe I may agree with Brian Schoeneman over at Bearing Drift on this one. Exactly why string it out as most voters are not known for their recall of past political shenanigans and nine months out from the election is a lifetime. I suppose she felt she needed to respond in some manner but most politicians are somewhat adept at the stone wall and all she appears to be achieving with this rebuttal is keeping the story alive and giving Reeves more free unsubstantiated potential victim media exposure. If Reeves supporters believe keeping this pile of mush alive is a campaign benefit I’m sorely confused on why?
Who ever did what to whom this is hurting both of them in the race. Mass mutual destruction was a defense concept not a proposed winning technique. As a non campaign strategy expert I perhaps don’t understand the deep thinking that goes into these potential disinformation efforts (if that is indeed what it is) but isn’t the slung mud supposed to benefit one individual and harm the other in these nasty undertakings? The only one that appears to be gaining any traction out of this is Glenn Davis. Very dumb politics no matter who hit the transmit key and not too shining a moment for plain common sense, one of the few political characteristics the largely ceremonial role of Virginia state LG calls for in the first place from either candidate.
Boiled down to the nuts and bolts:
Team Vogel tries the old anonymous hit letter (apparently unaware that there is no longer any online privacy).
Team Reeves calls them on it, demonstrates sufficient evidence (and a better grasp of technology).
Team Vogel cornered, unable to come clean (look at the consequences of admitting guilt) unable to publicly declare innocence (Hence the parsing, phrasing, and dissembling,) decides to take a lesson from the Clinton book and stonewall.
So the game of political chicken continues as long as anyone cares.
There is no need to file lawsuits, (unless you want the excuse of ‘can’t comment on pending legal matters’)
It’s a primary, so will be decided by low-info Republicans.
It’s a shame we don’t have an actual Republican Party to correct this crap, just ego-driven, personality-based political machines.
For all the hand wringing about the content of the statement, it’s what she had to do.
Reeves chose (apparently) to go public instead of handling it between the campaigns which put her on the defensive. She’s getting convicted here and other places in the court of public opinion.
She basically tells him to go through w the lawsuit or pound sand. Now the onus is on him to put up or shut up.
Will he? All depends on how much light he really wants shined on both the allegations against him and/or the subsequent leak.
Imho, he opened the door, now let’s see if he’s willing to walk through it.
How could she possibly spin out of this? It was too damning and Reeves didn’t allow her to slink away and stay in the race.
Once you pin the pull on Mr. Handgrenade, he is no longer your friend.
This was self-inflicted, and didn’t need to be. For that reason, she is out.
This is going to a primary right? Short of a criminal indictment, primary voters aren’t going to care who the Lt. Gov. is. Especially ones who got hoodwinked over the convention thing. Sounds like Ed needs to have a chat with these people before the distraction blows it for everyone.
and she the proud one.. who has once so well counselled him to feign innocence of him and gives way to the heart busting grief of guilty secrets….MacBeth
I am so sorry to be late to this conversation my dear Big Bull-n-Chief! Unlike some I had actual work to do.
Now, we are to presume that you are not only a research attorney but a trial lawyer as well? And yet as a side job you do forensic detective work as well. Well, you sure do have time on your hands don’t you.
It’s tough when YOU of all people are questioned and answered by someone with actual professional experience at this.
Allow me to quote another friend, Jordan Labiosa.
“This earth, this realm, this England. Doesn’t sound Mexican to me.”
Commenting without actually reading again, I see. Try again, please.
The AstroTurf making your skin crawl? Or would it be your thumb stuck on the scale? It’s hard to tell with you these days. BTW I read just fine but you investigate poorly, as usual.
“I read just fine.” Huh…news to me.
I’m glad to keep you informed. The pleasures all mine.
Mr. White may have experience at something, but based upon his article and “analysis”, it’s certainly not at conducting high-tech investigations of any real importance. If he attempted to testify in court as to his opinion, as he wrote it on his blog, opposing counsel would be jumping up and down objecting… And rightly so.
I’m not supporting either side in this. I’d just like to see the truth after a thorough investigation takes place. So far, the investigation has been far from thorough OR impartial.
It seems opinions are like belly bottons in this blog, everyone has one. If there’s any real evidence to the Reeves allegations IMO, take Jill to court.
Otherwise it’s all a bunch of hot air.
Let the court order an investigation. That shouldn’t be hard if all these facts are in order. Let the good times roll.
Like I said, read the post. That’s essentially what I wrote–that Jill threw down the gauntlet for Bryce to take it to the next level or let it go—without the added hostility and snark.
Are you the mediator now? Always such a calm in the storm. You are perfect to bring us unity and keep the teams fair and balanced.
Alledged this and alleged that. TBE, you being media, I understand you have to be carefu because you can be sued out the wazoo w/o “alleged” every other word . After all a woman who’d stoop so low as to send this filth out will stop at NOTHING to win! But fortunately the rest of us are not so shackled and can speak facts.
Mr. Vogel’s cell phone sent a text involved in this sordid mess. Go ahead and sue me, Jill Vogel! If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck – it’s a DUCK. This is ON you/your campaign.
Unless you want to claim, “the Russians did it.”
Let me point out this FACT: It was Vogel’s stupidity &/or naivete to have an open e.g. unsecured WiFi that allowed this whole mess to occur. Or so we’re told. That’s pretty dumb.
Doh. But I THOUGHT Jill and Alex Vogel were so brilliant with an ethics company and what all.
Either way – Jill Vogel does not have the right stuff to be our nominee for Lt. Gov.
If one could stomach a prolonged exposure to BD, they could no doubt more carefully parse the well-crafted and ethically-compliant statement for even more strained verbiage avoiding the truth and responsibility.
Here is the word in the chickens mouth:
“There is no evidence that any of the Vogel family cell phones accessed or verified the Gmail account in question.”
Let that sink in for a bit. Why say that, why say it that way?
Nothing admits mea culpa more than that sentence.
There is no gauntlet, there is a choice between truth and consequences or political righteous indignation.
Both goblets have the iocane powder.
Every statement they have made has been crafted with the skill of a surgeon.