Trump: Let me be clear, I condemn the KKK, white supremacists and the Proud Boys
President Trump joined Sean Hannity by phone to discuss the first presidential debate.
Emails purportedly from the far-right group Proud Boys were sent to hundreds of registered Democrats in Florida — threatening them that they have to change their party affiliation to the Republic Party and vote for President Trump or “we will come after you.”
The FBI and the Department of Homeland Security are investigating the matter.
The emails, viewed by authorities as an attempt to intimate voters, were reported to election officials and sheriff’s offices in at least two counties, Brevard and Alachua, as well as at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Local law enforcement then notified federal partners, who are investigating whether members of the Proud Boys group are indeed responsible. Preliminary evidence suggests the emails were sent from outside the continental United States.
According to the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office, the emails read: "[name] we are in possession of all your information You are currently registered as a Democrat and we know this because we have gained access into the entire voting infrastructure. You will vote for Trump on Election Day or we will come after you. Change your party affiliation to Republican to let us know you received our message and will comply. We will know which candidate you voted for. I would take this seriously if I were you. [voter’s address] good luck.”
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The emails appeared to be distributed from the email address: “Proud Boys [email protected]”
“In America, every registered voter is afforded the right to participate in the electoral process and deserves to do so without intimidation or influence,” Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said in a statement. “Please know that everyone in our community is safe to go to the polls throughout the election process and while these emails appear concerning, the investigation to date has determined the emails originated from outside the continental United States and are not considered a valid threat, but were sent with a morally corrupt agenda!”
TJ Pyche, the director of communications and outreach for the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections, told Fox News so far the office knows of hundreds of emails, but “it may be in the thousands, and I’ve seen them directed at folks affiliated with one political party.”
Despite what the email text suggests, Pyche said there was no security breach and Florida has broad public records laws that make voter information, including names and addresses publicly available. Among the information people can submit to the elections office with their voter registration are email addresses, which also would be available to anyone who makes a public information request, he said.
Pyche also confirmed the Alachua County Supervisor of Elections has been in contact with Enrique Tarrior, the Miami-based chairman of Proud Boys and state director for the grassroots organization Latinos for Trump. Tarrior denied the Proud Boys were behind the mass email and said he was cooperating with the FBI, WUFT reported.
An election worker, left, gives instructions for voting at an early voting site, Monday, Oct. 19, 2020, in Miami. Florida begins in-person early voting in much of the state Monday. With its 29 electoral votes, Florida is crucial to both candidates in order to win the White House. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
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“We are in contact with and working in conjunction with our law enforcement partners at the local, state and federal level, including the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security. The Florida Department of State's Division of Elections has been notified as well,” Alachua County Supervisor of Elections Kim A. Barton said in a statement. “If any individual engages in any form of voter intimidation, our office will refer the case to state and federal law enforcement.”
At least 183 individuals at or affiliated with the University of Florida, including students, faculty, staff, and alumni, also received the same threatening email Tuesday, Steve Orlando, the assistant vice president for communications at the University of Florida, confirmed to Fox News.
Orlando said the “address was forged and did not come from [email protected]” According to the university’s IT team, it was spoofed, meaning the email was made to appear it came from one email address when in fact it came from a different one.
The university’s IT department alerted campus police, blocked the email, and removed it from university mailboxes, Orlando said, adding: “The University of Florida strongly condemns voter intimidation and threats of any kind in any format.”
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The domain for the sender’s email address, “officialproudboys.com,” was inactive by Tuesday afternoon but the website did appear to have been linked to the Proud Boys group in the past, Florida Today reported. Internet records revealed control over the website, which was launched in March 2017, was changed at some point Monday night, WUFT reported.
With 29 electoral college votes, Florida is considered a crucial swing state in the presidential election. The state began early voting in person Monday. Meanwhile, the Proud Boys made national headlines weeks ago when Trump told members to "stand back, and stand by" during the first presidential debate against Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
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