October 8th, 2008
10:02 AM ET
13 years ago

Son of Democratic state lawmaker indicted in Palin hacking probe

[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/10/08/art.palinsign1008.ap.jpg caption="The son of a Democratic state legislator in Tennessee has been indicted for allegedly hacking an e-mail belonging to Gov. Sarah Palin."]
WASHINGTON (CNN) - A federal grand jury in Knoxville, Tennessee, has indicted the son of a Democratic state legislator for allegedly hacking into a personal e-mail account belonging to Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, the Department of Justice said Wednesday.

David Kernell, 20, son of Memphis Democrat Mike Kernell, has turned himself into federal authorities for arrest and will be arraigned Wednesday morning before U.S. Magistrate Judge C. Clifford Shirley, the Department of Justice said.

Kernell was indicted on Tuesday by the grand jury on a single count of "intentionally accessing without authorization" the e-mail account of the Alaskan governor, the DOJ said. The indictment was unsealed on Wednesday.

Some of the contents of Palin's e-mail account were displayed briefly last month on the Internet. Although the displayed messages did not contain significant political disclosures, the McCain-Palin campaign issued a statement calling the incident "a shocking invasion of the governor's privacy and a violation of law."

FBI agents searched David Kernell's Knoxville home over the September 20-21 weekend, federal law enforcement sources told CNN.

According to the indictment, Kernell was allegedly able to access Palin's e-mail by resetting the password. He then allegedly read the contents and made screenshots of the e-mail directory and other personal information, the indictment states.

"The personal information included, and was not limited to, other e-mail addresses of family members, pictures of family members, at least one cell phone number of a family member, the dates of birth of Governor Palin and another family member, and Governor Palin's address book," the indictment said.

The screenshots were posted to a public Web site, and Kernell is alleged to have also posted the newly created password to that site allowing others to access Palin's e-mail account, it said.

While the indictment is merely an allegation, the charge carries a maximum five-year prison term, a $250,000 fine and a three year term of supervised release upon conviction, according to the DOJ.

A trial date has not been set.


Filed under: Sarah Palin
soundoff (182 Responses)
  1. California Gold

    Palin and her Yahoo! e-mail. What poor judgment in someone who wants to be Vice President.

    October 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  2. John in Ohio

    "Ah Socialism; it will be great to have the government mandate everything for the individual. Democracy is soon to be dead in this country. Now forefathers, you can roll over in your graves. In two years the American people will be advocating the overthrow of Obama and his wretched government controlled society."

    Oh, dere you go again fella. Don'cha know the Republicans are just as big into socialism as them there Democrats? Democracy isn't dead, but capitalism sure is dying.

    October 8, 2008 11:25 am at 11:25 am |
  3. Peter of Oregon

    I want to find out about the Trooper gate probe you know. Also lets hear what Todd and his business partner have to say, also.

    October 8, 2008 11:26 am at 11:26 am |
  4. Unshrub

    fella from Chicago

    Here is a little tid bit of the truth you obviously do not know.

    Who are the two presidents who took more state and individual rights away and gave them to the federal governement? They are Reagan and Bush II. While the republicans like you to believe it is the Democrats who do this, and as long as they can keep fooling people like yourself they get your vote.

    October 8, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  5. America think for you

    Barack Obama the great debater won that debate last night.The GOP had the town hall forum last night which they claim was their candidate strenght and he blew it. He was not a maverick last night. Barack Obama look very presidential last and McCain was very childish. Like in the first debate McCain could not look at Barack in the eye. He wondered around and never look at Barack. We do not need that in the white house. America you need a president when seats with the world leaders that can look at them in the eye.This election America is not about Barack like McCain want to make you believe. It is about you and me and the issues that we care about. You pick America which candidate been talking about the issues lately and understand them.

    October 8, 2008 11:27 am at 11:27 am |
  6. lori dennis

    i really do not believe its okay for kernell to hack sarah palin e-mail but why isnt she as transparent as she claims herself to be, more and more i get the feeling she is hiding something, just as certain news reporters is reporting honestly and thats just a few in the pool , such as keith olbermann, and rachel maddox, that sarah palin is not exloit as much as she should, for 1 thing no other news cast has report the fact that her husband is hanging around with a known terriost, why haven't the other news station reported that , and how she had her brother in law fired by abusing her power in office and last but not least how her husband name is on government stationaries and he do not work for the government, so yes there is still a lot of unanswered questions , especially when you wants to point fingers and call senator obama a terriost, i feel sarah have no room to even say that

    October 8, 2008 11:28 am at 11:28 am |
  7. Proud to be American

    Okay .... so a youngster can get into the potential or could VP of America mail? hey he needs a medal for letting the world know she has security issues .... give the child a break.... community services and move on.

    October 8, 2008 11:29 am at 11:29 am |
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