October 8th, 2008
10:02 AM ET
14 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. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    Give him the same punishment you would if he was a republican. Make no differences and cut no slack because of political affiliation.

    Fair is fair – for ALL.

    October 8, 2008 10:12 am at 10:12 am |
  2. Barbara - 65 yr old white female in NC

    And if he dodges a subpoena, lock him up. Fair is fair.

    October 8, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  3. PUMBU

    PALIN IS UNFIT TO BE A PRESIDENT OF THIS NATION, ESPECIALLY NOW. GO BACK TO ALASKA, PEOPLE ARE STILL TRASHING THEIR GARBAGE IN THE SEA. SHE IS A JOKE!!!!!!!!

    October 8, 2008 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
  4. REDNECKS LOVE OBAMA

    McCain/Palin bring out the WORST qualities in people. McCain proved in the debate last night how OUT OF TOUCH, ANGRY, MEAN SPIRITED, HATEFUL, and ERRATIC he is.

    October 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  5. tulsa

    If guilty, he ought to be thrown in jail. PERIOD.

    Regardless of who you want to win this election, there is a right way and a wrong way to do things and this is just WRONG.

    On the other hand, anyone who would call the Obama campaign "the dirtiest" must be hitting the drug cabinet again.

    Obama/Biden 08

    October 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  6. Ryan, Florida

    This kid should be given a medal, not a jail sentence, for fearlessly exposing Sarah Palin's use of a non-government email account to conduct official state business. Palin should be the one going on trial.

    October 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  7. simmerdownow

    ah...the roosters are coming home to roost...and they've got lipstick all over their beaks.

    October 8, 2008 10:15 am at 10:15 am |
  8. Ryan

    Why am I not surprised?

    October 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  9. Hypocracy has no bounds

    Doesn't matter if he did this to Palin/Biden or any canidate. He knows he was wrong. Anyone who defends this cause your anti Palin then you are whats wrong with our politics. He should made an example of and prosecuted to the extend of the law. At age 20 he knows better and has no excuse.

    October 8, 2008 10:16 am at 10:16 am |
  10. Chicken Little

    Can't wait to see how the McCain/Palin camp tries to tie this to Obama. Desperate times result in ridiculous and desperate measures.

    October 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  11. My Friends, let me tell you

    There were no photos of Sarah in a hot tub.

    October 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  12. Gtnaustin

    Stupid, stupid, stupid boy. If you are going to do something that stupid PLEASE be smart enough to pull it off and NOT get caught.

    October 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  13. Paul

    It was in fact a bad action on his part.

    However, Mrs. Palin should start telling the truth about her apparent abuse of authority back in her state.

    What is she hidding?

    October 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  14. Beverly, NYC

    How did he get indicted so quickly and the Governor from Alaska, her husband and staff can refuse to answer subponeas? Double standard anyone?

    October 8, 2008 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  15. SENATUS POPOLUSQUE ROMANUS

    This young man will learn that if you break the law, you must pay the price.

    It's that simple!!

    October 8, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  16. wwf

    Not a fan at all of Palin, but what happened was wrong. Trouble is though he will probably just get a slap on the wrist, being a fourtunate son.

    October 8, 2008 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  17. Scott in Atlanta

    Who? That one over there???

    October 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  18. Boye

    That's what you get for being stupid. What did she ever do to you?

    October 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  19. Ron L

    He should have known better. Serves him right and hopefully will stop others from doing the same thing.

    October 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  20. rm

    That was quick. Why is it taking so long to get Troopergate started? "Hold me accountable" indeed.

    October 8, 2008 10:19 am at 10:19 am |
  21. Ted

    If he did that, he should be found guilty and sentenced accordingly. That's wrong!

    Obama 08

    October 8, 2008 10:20 am at 10:20 am |
  22. THE 2008 REPTILIAN TICKET IS MCKEATING5 WHO TAKES 112K IN OFFICE AND AN ALASKAN GOV. THAT ABUSES THE POWER OF OFFICE. DOES AMERICA REALLY NEED TWO MORE CROOKED REPTILES IN THE HIGHEST OFFICES IN THE LAND? YOU DECIDE!

    The content on the email was:

    Lizzy,

    Dawgonit, grandpa made me put on the domintraix out fit and spank him agin' for bein' a bad boy and not changin' the game, don't ya cha kno'!

    I said " Say it ain't so, John Boy"!

    Hopin' to see ya at the baby bunnie kill, you betcha!

    Sarah Lou

    October 8, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  23. carol

    I am a Democrat, but I believe in justice being served if you have committed a crime.....no one is above the law and by that I mean
    NO ONE.
    I would still like to know how Sarah Palin and Todd Palin can get away with not answering questions even when subpoena's are served?
    Are they above the law for some reason?
    We all know as Citizen's if we refused.....we would be hauled off to jail, something seems rather unfair here and that is my point....
    NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW....NOT EVEN THE PALIN'S!!!!!!

    October 8, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  24. Gone

    Another Democratic cheat and criminal! No wonder - look who his role model is - "The One."

    October 8, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  25. Jim Noble

    Here come the right wing crazies, spouting all about how it is representative of democrats and playing six degrees to somehow link it back to Obama. I, for one, believe that while what this kid did was illegal, the ramifications were more important than the crime....that being that it provided irrefutable proof that Palin was using a personal email to conduct state business in order to circumvent transparency laws regarding official email.

    October 8, 2008 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
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