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. Stacy from Loudoun County, VA

    This young person, if found guilty of the crime, should do time. This is not a Democrat or Republican issue, this is a clear violation of the law. Being held accountable and admitting to your mistakes is a clear mark of character, right Governor Palin?

    October 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  2. OMG

    I just cant believe there are 40% dumb, uneducated, racist people in America who still supports repubs. Dont you guys have any shame, our country is down the drain except Bush, McCain, Palin and some of the rich conservatives all others are suffering because of bush policies. How come you guys even think of that party, last night in debate OMG McCain was looking so old and Sarah? she is the dumbest women i have ever seen after Paris Hilton. Now I think Paris looks much smarter person.

    October 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  3. nuclular weapons= PALIN NEEDS TO CHECK A DICTIONARY

    so who cares. this is not news to me. all i want is money in my pocket and pay my morgage

    October 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  4. ANGIE

    Come on haters lets blame obama 123

    October 8, 2008 10:30 am at 10:30 am |
  5. Chipster

    It's too bad we can't catch the spyware, virus, and malware distributors who think it's cool to damage other people's computers or at least cost them a lot of downtime and money to clean up the mess created by these useless people. If they're bright enough to do this, why don't they use their talent to do something useful, like cure cancer or end hunger?

    You're not cool. You're not clever. You're just useless.

    October 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  6. ladonnab

    Democrats are only for freedom of speech as long as they can bad mouth people they don't like.....i.e. Sarah Palin. If it makes all of you feel more important or makes you feel like your candidate is better, go ahead and say all of your mean remarks. Words......that's all they are and most conservatives could care less about what you think. In fact, when you put her down, it just fires us up more to go out and vote for her. Thanks. So who's the idiots?

    October 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  7. JoeCool

    Typical liberal course of action. Break any law in order to get ahead. Then don't be man enough to do it yourself, get your kid to do it for you. What pathetic losers.

    October 8, 2008 10:31 am at 10:31 am |
  8. mayah

    the law is the law, republican or democrat, be fair when administering it, taking into consideration the motive behind it. Palin is no example of that anyhow, she dodges behind her power of Governorship in Alaska, from an on going investigation of her abuse of power.. innocent until proven otherwise.. go figure..

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  9. Bruce

    For those that watched the DEBATE. One POINT that McCain used about Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac: The New York Times has published a separate list looking at contributions from "directors, officers, and lobbyists for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac" for the 2008 campaign cycle. That list — using figures from the Federal Election Commission — shows McCain receiving $169,000, while Obama received only $16,000.

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  10. ANGIE

    But I dont understand if you dont answer a subpoena dont you go to jail?

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  11. freedomlovingpatriot, Chicago IL

    Guess McCain doesn't have to worry about someone doing this to his email account...Since he doesn't even know what "email" is.

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  12. cool onlooker

    To be honest, who cares about the contents in those emails?
    At least she knows how to SEND AN EMAIL from Yahoo, not like her pal McSame who is computer illiterate.

    Gotcha baby. Tonight's B-B-Q moose dinner will be ready @ 6pm at my back yard, where we can see Russia together...

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  13. Mike

    Someone needs to say that McCain contradicted himself big time yesterday!!

    He said that he was going to freeze all spending when he becomes President. Then he said that he was going to buy up all the bad mortgages when he becomes President. THIS IS A BIG CONTRADICTION!!

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  14. Amy from Michigan

    Please, McCain/Palin, if you have any decency left, please don't try to pin this on the whole Democratic Party! This was the action of one man, and one man alone.

    He will have his day in court and face the consequences, which is more than I can say for the people involved in the Troopergate scandal.

    October 8, 2008 10:32 am at 10:32 am |
  15. Christina

    That's so sad that he'll have to go to jail for the likes of Sarah Palin. What a waste of an indictment! Poor kid. However, if you do the crime you must do the time.

    OBAMA '08!!!

    October 8, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  16. Open Your 3rd Eye

    Hey Dave, Way to take one for the team bro!! l.o.l.

    October 8, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  17. Koele

    I smell B.S. (banana sandwiches). I bet that kid comes out of jail with some extra cash in hand. Cover up!

    October 8, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  18. Credit Card Republicans

    Im sure the current administration has been reading everyones e-mails and listening to phone calls,especially Democrats running for office,but you will never find out about it.Democrats have been told they are being monitored and watch what they say about campaign stradegy.

    October 8, 2008 10:33 am at 10:33 am |
  19. Jane MN

    Not that I am indulging this kind of hacking behaviors, but why is this “old news” coming back again, and right after McCain seemingly lost his 2nd debate? If it just merely a follow-up report, I’d rather hear more about the progress on the troopergate investigation. Nonetheless, I could care less right now.

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  20. America demands answers

    Did anyone read the story that the young man turned himself in?
    meaning he respected the law...everyone should learn from this young man's case and turn yourself in or submit to authority no matter who you are....what goes for the goose also goes to the gander...
    Respect the rule of law and do what is right for the sake of unity and this great country.

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  21. CNN = Obama = Bias

    CNN has lost all credibility when it comes to the presidential race. Anything that CNN now reports on television or on the Internet must be viewed as coming from the Obama campaign. . This is a shameful situation, but given their proclivity to bias polls, blogs, analysis, and general news, we have reached that sorry state. CNN now stands for Certainly Not News.

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  22. Obama/Biden 08!

    The kid was stupid, he got caught, and should have some form of punishment. However; the question of "What was Palin doing using a personal email for business purposes???" should be answered, oops I forgot she and the first Dude just get to walk away from subpeana's right??

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  23. Eyckie

    Palin should go to jail for trying to incite violence against another American. She is dangerous and she is spreading hate. Why aren't they stopping her?

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  24. QG

    He has until November 4th to keep taking this beating....

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
  25. confused

    Hey Hispanic for Obama.

    It's against the law to do that.
    Doesn't matter whose email he hacked. What if it was your email hacked, lets say....buy the government. Hmmm. Democrats would be screaming about privacy and big brother is watching and all that other yada yada liberal BS. But's it Sarah Palin so that's ok.

    Liberals sicken me.

    October 8, 2008 10:34 am at 10:34 am |
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