Sheila Jackson Lee fires intern arrested for ‘doxing’ GOP senators in Kavanaugh battle

October 5, 2018

A day after Capitol Police arrested a staffer in U.S. Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee’s office for allegedly posting personal information online about one or more U.S. senators, the Houston Democrat said she has fired the unpaid intern and denied prior knowledge of the misconduct.

“I want to be very clear that our office, our permanent staff, had nothing to do with this behavior, and we condemn it,” Jackson Lee told reporters Thursday at her district office in Houston, saying she was “entirely unaware” of the “indefensible and criminal behavior” until informed by law enforcement.

Jackson A. Cosko, 27, faces charges of making public, or “doxing,” restricted information, unauthorized access of a government computer, burglary, and other violations of federal law.

Cosko, an intern for Jackson Lee for 38 days, was fired Wednesday after Capitol Police informed Jackson Lee of the “inappropriate behavior,” she said. Her office is fully cooperating with law enforcement as it investigates the incident.

Personal information of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Orrin G. Hatch and Mike Lee, both Republicans from Utah, briefly appeared on their respective Wikipedia pages, according to a social media bot that tracks Wikipedia edits from Capitol IP addresses.

Some news outlets reported that Cosko posted the senators’ home phone numbers and addresses. Jackson Lee said she did not have “any direct information” to confirm the reports, but she did not dispute them.

The four Senators are heavily involved in Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination: McConnell laid the groundwork for a Saturday final confirmation vote by setting up a preliminary vote to take place Friday.

Meanwhile, the three other senators sit on the Judiciary Committee. Some media reports said their information was posted during last week’s committee hearing; the committee subsequently voted along party lines to advance Kavanaugh’s nomination.

At the press conference Thursday, Jackson Lee stood in front of several local faith leaders and promised her office — “one of the more popular offices as it relates to interns,” she said — would continue to “open our doors” to give young people “opportunity and exposure” to government.

While employed under Jackson Lee, Cosko answered phones and wrote letters regarding legislation, Jackson Lee said.

Cosko’s LinkedIn profile identifies him as a “Democratic Political Professional & Cybersecurity Graduate Student” from the Washington, D.C. area. He lists a number of Senate and House positions dating back more than five years.

He also lists experience as a former Iowa field organizer for Generation Forward, a political action committee associated with former Baltimore Mayor and Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, a 2016 presidential candidate.

According to Legistorm, an online service that tracks congressional staffers, Cosko has previously worked for Sens. Barbara Boxer of California and Maggie Hassan of New Hampshire.

Asked whether her office was aware of any prior behavioral issues, Jackson Lee said, “That is now in the purview of the investigation.”

Update hourly