Authorities are investigating a report that Republic presidential hopeful Mitt Romney’s personal e-mail account has been hacked, his campaign office said on Tuesday.
The Web site Gawker reported that an unnamed hacker had broken into the Republican flagbearer’s private Hotmail account by guessing the answer to a security question about Romney’s favorite pet.
The anonymous hacker, whom Gawker said tipped off the Web site to his action, said the same password also gave him access to Romney’s account for file-sharing service Dropbox, but that he did not provide any screen-grabs or other evidence of his tampering.
“The proper authorities are investigating this crime,” campaign spokeswoman Gail Gitcho said in a statement.
She declined to confirm whether the hacked e-mail account was Romney’s Hotmail account, if he was still using it, or what sort of data may have been compromised.
“We will have no further comment on it,” Gitcho said.
Romney is not the first US politician whose e-mails faced security threats during the heat of a presidential campaign.
In 2008, a young man hacked into the account of Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
A number of her e-mails and two family photos taken from her account were posted online.
The FBI soon traced the hacking back to a Tennessee college student, who was arrested and sentenced to one year in jail.
The Romney hack, if confirmed, marks a potential deepening of e-mail headaches for the White House candidate.
The Wall Street Journal reported on its Web site on Tuesday on internal e-mails from Romney’s time as Massachusetts governor that show how Romney was involved in negotiating the controversial healthcare law, which passed in his state.
The e-mails were part of a small cache of messages to survive Romney’s administration, after his aides reportedly scrubbed servers of e-mails and purchased the office’s hard drives.
The e-mails, which the newspaper obtained through a public-records request, show how Romney and aides strongly defended the law’s requirement that every resident of Massachusetts have or buy health insurance.
A similar, so-called individual mandate is the most controversial portion of US President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law.