A federal jury convicts the son of a prominent Tennessee Democrat of illegally accessing the e-mail account of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential campaign.
The son of a Democratic Tennessee lawmaker was convicted April 30 for
hacking the e-mail account of former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin during the 2008
According to authorities, a federal jury convicted 22-year-old David
Kernell, son of Rep. Mike Kernell,
of obstruction of justice and
unauthorized access to a computer. He was acquitted of wire fraud, and the jury
deadlocked on a charge of identity theft.
The attack on Palin's e-mail came at the height of the presidential campaign
in September 2008, and at a time when Palin was battling allegations that she
used her personal e-mail to conduct state business as governor. Palin was
running for vice president as part of
Sen. John McCain's presidential bid.
At the time, Kernell was a 20-year-old student at the University
of Tennessee. After piecing
information about Palin,
Kernell was able to guess answers to access her
Yahoo account and change her password. After accessing her account, he posted
screenshots to the 4Chan message board.
Prosecutors also presented evidence that Kernell began to delete
records and documents after he became aware of the possibility of an
"My family and I are thankful that the jury thoroughly and carefully
weighed the evidence and issued a just verdict," Palin wrote
"Besides the obvious invasion of privacy and
security concerns surrounding this issue, many of us are concerned about the
integrity of our country's political elections. America's
elections depend upon fair competition ... As Watergate taught us, we rightfully
reject illegally breaking into candidates' private communications for political
intrigue in an attempt to derail an election."
Kernell faces a maximum of one year in prison on the
unauthorized access charge and 20 years for obstruction of justice,
Editor's Note: This
story was updated to include information from the Department of Justice.