Two months after the campaign managers for Hillary Clinton and Mitt Romney helped launch an effort to assist campaigns in preventing future cyberattacks, four secretaries of state have signed on to work on their project. Republicans Mac Warner of West Virginia and Tom Schedler of Louisiana, and Democrats Denise Merrill of Connecticut and Nellie Gorbea of Rhode Island, are now participating in the effort to create a non-partisan playbook for campaigns. The project is in part fueled by the presidential campaign experiences of Robby Mook and Matt Rhoades, both of whom managed campaigns that fell victim to hacking by foreign entities. Mook and Rhoades have been in touch with a number of campaigns this year but won’t identify them because of the sensitivity of the issue.
“Not everyone wants to talk about it, because if you’re talking about it you’re not talking about your campaign, your candidate, and you’re also putting a target on your back, I totally get that,” Rhoades said. “A lot of the meetings that we have, discussions we have, are completely off the record for those reasons.”
Mook and Rhoades are so far refraining from offering a hard timeline for their initiatives. “It’s less about ‘In 2018, elections will be completely secure,’” Mook said. “It’s more about, ‘we know that a lot of campaigns can be in a much better place so we’re doing everything we can to help get them there.’”
“A big worry and concern, especially, is down-ballot campaigns,” Rhoades said. “Usually they are a collection of young people who bring their laptops from back home, someone gets assigned to be the digital director and they’re told ‘You’re the IT director, too,’ so they try to create some secure system and we want to try to provide them with the best opportunity, the best practices, so they can make their campaign as secure as possible.”