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 presidential campaign.
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 together personal 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 FBI investigation.
“My family and I are thankful that the jury thoroughly and carefully weighed the evidence and issued a just verdict,” Palin wrote on Facebook. “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, authorities said.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated to include information from the Department of Justice.