A Colorado Democrat forum held Saturday on Zoom for nine candidates running for the 3rd Congressional District seat held by Rep. Lauren Boebert was cut short after someone posted videos of child sex abuse, according to state and local party officials.
In response to the incident via email to The Journal Monday, Mary Dodd, chairwoman of the Montezuma County Democrats, decided to reduce an advertising campaign to “limit our preregistration” for the March 5 party caucus and assembly, which will be held on Zoom.
Dodd said concern about people who “really dislike the Democrats” contributed to her decision to reduce the ad campaign. She added that people against the Democrats “behaved very badly” at last week’s Cortez City Council meeting and attacked Mayor Mike Lavey personally. Dodd stated she has had “veiled threats” in her role as Montezuma County chairwoman of the party.
During the 3rd Congressional District forum, videos of the pornographic child sex abuse were posted about 5:15 p.m. and stayed up for 10 to 15 seconds, Dodd said.
More than 200 people viewed the Zoom link, which was managed and hosted by the Colorado Democratic Party office, she said.
“It was horrific, everybody was completely stunned and traumatized. It was 1,000 times worse than your worst nightmare,” Dodd said.
Candidate Colin Wilhelm was “disgusted and disturbed” by the hack that occurred during the forum, according to an email to The Journal.
“Before Saturday's incident, my team had discovered repeated attempts to infiltrate our email from persons unknown, in the general location of Silt Colorado,” Wilhelm stated. “I know that the police, CBI, and FBI are looking into the attack and hopefully will catch those responsible.”
Colorado Democratic Party Chairman Morgan Carroll and 3rd Congressional District Chairman James Iacino released a statement Saturday night after the incident:
“We are saddened by the events that occurred during our CD3 candidate forum. We apologize to everyone who had to witness the offensive and criminal content that was shared during this meeting.
“We are living in unprecedented times and the fact that someone would stoop this low to stop us from discussing the important policy issues says a lot. Thank you to the candidates and those who attended what was a great forum so far with thoughtful topics and responses.
“We will work on addressing this security issue and will be reaching out to the necessary authorities to hopefully track down this hacker.”
Dodd said how the hacker was able to post the offensive videos is under investigation.
She said there are security protocols for the March 5 Montezuma County Democrat caucus and assembly being held on Zoom to exclude hijackers.
Security measures include vetting eligible Democrat voting members before they are admitted to the meeting and limiting screen sharing capacity to only the host and co-host.
To participate in a Zoom meeting, preregistration is required then the Zoom link is sent out to the participant. It is not allowed to be shared with anyone.
Anyone who logs onto a Zoom meeting who has not preregistered, or who has shared the link, will be bumped off.
As part of security protocols, the host will turn off microphones for Zoom attendees and can turn them on as necessary. Also, comments in the chat room will only be seen by host and co-host.
This article has been corrected to clarify that Montezuma County Democratic Chairman Mary Dodd was not personally attacked during a recent Cortez City Council meeting.