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. Mark

    Do the crime? Do the time!

    October 8, 2008 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  2. An independent

    It was not an offical account. It was a private account of which many of us are hack and do not know it.

    October 8, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  3. Lima

    I was going to vote for McCain but the S Palin nomination drove me away...that and the fact that we have few enough friends in the world as it is without electing another isolationist president. Her email account? Its probably as exciting as Peewee Hermans trash basket.

    October 8, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  4. Auds


    October 8, 2008 10:44 am at 10:44 am |
  5. Tim

    Hacking is illegal, regardless of who it is and who it's against – he should go to jail.

    October 8, 2008 10:46 am at 10:46 am |
  6. Mark

    Fine..punish him for hacking her email. Now what is her punishment for doing Government business on her personal email account to avoid transparency?

    October 8, 2008 10:47 am at 10:47 am |
  7. dittohead with forty names

    Heck,everyone blogging here and other sites are constantly being monitored.They know who we are,where we live, and how we will vote.Your privacy no longer exists .

    October 8, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  8. Bruce

    he should be punished..too bad it over her...but....
    what public offical keeps private email accounts with the likes fo yahoo..
    but he shold be punished.

    October 8, 2008 10:48 am at 10:48 am |
  9. West Virginia for Obama

    Sarah Palin is a very dangerous person who will stoop to any level to accomplish her goal, which she shares with John McCain, and that is to win at any cost to this country and our citizens. Over the past several days, she has held rallies where she has incited crowds to scream out that Obama is a "terrorist," that he pals around with terrorists, and at one event an attendee even shouted "kill him!," which has caused the Secret Service to step in to investigate.

    She truly is evil behind the winking pretty face. Fortunately, level-headed, well-centered people pay her no attention. Soon she will be back in Alaska, thank heavens, and we can forget about this bubble head that the Republicans have so irresponsibly brought into our national politics.

    Obama/Biden 2008

    October 8, 2008 10:49 am at 10:49 am |
  10. Will from NYC

    such swift justice... too bad no one went after enron like that.... sad really

    October 8, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  11. Greg in MN

    Amy from Michigan...you are asking McCain/Palin to have decency. I'm sorry, but they got rid of that a long time ago.

    They will try to make it sound like its all part of the Dem's plan. Which it isn't of course, but since when has the truth ever mattered to them?

    Just a kid thinking himself cooler than he is doing something stupid. And he's going to pay for it.

    October 8, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  12. Lee B

    well Cnn got the debate all wrong again...Aparently you don't have anaybody except that Amy girl,who actually know how to score a debate.. Tthe rest of your Pundits {Cambell Brown, the worst reporter ever} were lost in their dreamy world of Obamaisms. Fox News gets it right MCcain wins.
    .Looks like liberal leaning cnn looses another one to Fox News ..they report the truth..not how they want things to appear.

    October 8, 2008 10:50 am at 10:50 am |
  13. Ryan Kr

    Sarah Palin go back to Alaska with your six packs, and bridge to no where project–you're clueless, perhaps dumb about domestic and international affairs.
    They have been reading our e-mails and listening to our phone calls since the last past eight years-that's not news to us.

    October 8, 2008 10:51 am at 10:51 am |
  14. susie

    Did Obama put him up to it?

    October 8, 2008 10:52 am at 10:52 am |
  15. AP

    And this will be Obama's fault. In 4...3...2...

    October 8, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  16. Christine

    I'm not a fan of Palin's, but this boy's actions were wrong and he should pay the price for the crime.

    October 8, 2008 10:53 am at 10:53 am |
  17. Corrupt

    McCain supporters will attempt to tie this to Barack Obama in 3, 2, 1 ...

    Can you say distraction?

    This Friday, we'll hear about a REAL ABUSE OF POWER ... by Sarah Palin

    October 8, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  18. Lorna, NY

    And will McCain/Palin be indicted for race baiting and their hate mongering rallies? Just wondering...

    October 8, 2008 10:54 am at 10:54 am |
  19. That Other Jerry

    The kid hacked, he got caught, he's gonna get punished. End of story. Anybody else out there notice we're on the edge of an economic meltdown, and we're fighting a two-front war? We have four weeks to choose a president; it might be prudent to focus the news coverage on how the candidates might handle the current situations. And it might be helpful to ditch the playground name-calling in the discussion forums and actually discuss these issues intelligently. If that's possible.

    October 8, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  20. Anna PA

    I want to hear about troopergate. Not how some teenager hacked into Palin's yahoo e-mail. although, what that kid did find out is that Palin uses a private e-mail for public business. Why is that?

    October 8, 2008 10:55 am at 10:55 am |
  21. Rodger

    He must have had help from the Bush Justice Department!

    October 8, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  22. Canada for Obama

    What about Bush? he also read people's email. Please let go. Of course Palin is nobody.... what a big deal

    October 8, 2008 10:56 am at 10:56 am |
  23. Cindy from Wisconsin

    If my son or daughter had done something like this I would be so ashammed. Why is character no longer an issue...because the dems want to win at any cost. Now one of their own is in big trouble. As a mom would like to see him get off with some kind of probabtion but then what does that teach our children? Cheating is good! Look at Acorn and the attempts it is making to under value our legitatimate votes. Even looking over the facts check on this web site hints of particsanship. Let's look at things from both sides and leave out the opinion please.

    October 8, 2008 10:57 am at 10:57 am |
  24. Susan, Newport

    Idiots are completely willing to elect Sara Palin to the possible highest
    office in the land, to take charge of their lives, knowing absolutely
    nothing of substance about her. This is how Hitler got into power.
    At least Senator Obama has been vetted. Believe me, he would not
    have gotten this far without the feds going over him with a fine tooth
    comb. You can't say the same about Sara Palin. It will be too late when
    you can't check certain books out of the library, or your daughter who's
    pregnant from rape can't have an abortion because fascist Palin won't
    allow it. Americans should wake up and stop being vunerable and
    stupid in their responsability to elect a qualified person to office. You
    see what happened to the country under Bush.

    October 8, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
  25. Phil Newton Murphy, Oregon

    Ground him!

    October 8, 2008 10:59 am at 10:59 am |
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