RECON VILLAGE - Applied OSINT For Politics: Turning Open Data Into News

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RECON VILLAGE - Applied OSINT For Politics: Turning Open Data Into News
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“How do you apply open source intelligence techniques to politicians, candidates, and others holding the public trust? It’s easier than you think. This talk will outline the general principles for investigating public figures, how to take information and data and turn it into a news story even when the story is (often) incomplete, and then review several case studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of combining these techniques. Case Study #1: Selling Out Before The Financial Crisis: politicians using their positions and insider knowledge to profit and sell stocks before regulatory actions and major events like the 2008 financial crisis Case Study #2: Family Money Laundering Campaign Contributions: politician, who lacks the means themselves, illegally fund their campaigns with hundreds of thousands of dollars from family members Case Study #3: How To Save 300,000 On A Home: politician purchases a home at a steep discount from a major campaign donor Case Study #4: Downton Abbey On Capitol Hill: politicians use public funds to decorate their offices in ostentatious and wasteful ways Case Study #5: Voter Fraud Is Real: political candidate actually commits voter fraud”
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next session is a comprehensive talk by Lloyd Miller he's gonna be doing applied azam for politics specifically looking at the outline for the principles for investigating high net worth individuals never inhale so hand over to Lloyd thank you yeah thank you so much and she's just a real quick about myself I've been running political investigations for the last 10 years I actually only found out that Osen existed a couple of years ago and there's a really great community of people who put out a lot of open-source tools and are very helpful in working out the process for different types of investigations this slide along with all the resources and links to the many many resources that I'm going to talk about today are all on my github and if you have any questions you can talk to me after the talk find me around or just ask me on Twitter there's also an ascent rocket chat ascent team I believe it is and you can find me on there I'm not hard to find that's my name so before we get into the meet I just want to talk a little bit because there are gonna be a lot of the documents that I'm going to talk about are publicly available and are gonna have a lot of information that people might think is you know a violation of privacy so the first thing
I want to emphasize is transparency with what these documents is the point these documents are public because the public should and has a right to view them so when we're talking about the finances of an elected official the public needs to be able to see that so that they trust that their elected officials are making decisions in the best interest of their constituents and not what will make them wealthy these records exist for you guys to examine them you I want you to go out and read these I want you to go out and find them they exist so that you can go and pull them and then the last thing and this is very important is use this information responsibly I don't want anybody to do anything malicious that someone some point in the future is going to come and use as justification to restrict these documents all right so what we're going to talk about today the first is the process generally for looking into elected officials public records how you go from finding something to putting it out there into the news a couple of the unique sources that I use and that you guys will be able to use after this to find this type of information what to do if you find something obviously we're talking to open data into news so you found something what do you do with it and then we're gonna go over a few case studies of where this process worked and then what happened so this is the
general process that I like to use the first is of gold the first thing whenever you're looking in to elected officials there is a tremendous amount of information that you can look into so I think it's very important for you to triage what you're looking at pick an individual and elected official maybe it's somebody who is in the news maybe it's somebody maybe it's your member of Congress or you senator or your mayor or a member of the City Council somebody that you feel should have their records examined then you do your research you're gonna look into you know their financial disclosures their our campaign committees you might look into their private businesses their voting records both there are legislative voting records in their personal voting records as a member of the public then very important is to verify this information not just relying on what the public record says but looking for other information out there that will help prove the point that you're trying to make and also to verify your own interpretations a lot of these are complicated documents with very very arcane rules you want to make sure that you understand the legal requirements for report for filling out these documents when something isn't in there does it need to be in there or were they allowed to leave it out and then packaging it this means going beyond just the information that you found and looking at the context what else was going on at the time and also finding past examples of where something similar occurred how did the process play out this will help you prepare and get a better understanding of how to release this information whether or not you're giving it to a journalist an interested party or if you choose to do so and I generally recommend against it which is self-publishing research and then finally if you do choose to self publish you're gonna have to be prepared to defend not just your research but yourself I'll get into a little bit more about why I recommend not self-publishing and defending it as most of it so the ocean
tools are we're going to talk about first campaign finance records so this is going to be every dollar that goes in and out of any political committee is going to be publicly recorded the Federal Election Commission actually just recently put out an API to pull all of this information I find it very useful I put together a little web page that you can find on my github that allows you to just quickly search all of this data a personal financial disclosures every elected official gonna have to disclose their finances great tool for being able to look into how an individual goes through and reports and lives out there likely very wealthy existence legislative office disbursements this one is something that I never really find a lot of information on but when you do find something of value it's usually something very big one of the case studies everything that brought down a politician was found into publicly recorded office disbursements voter records every person who is registered to vote all their information is a public record a lot of it is online sometimes you might have to go and ask for these records but they're mostly free business and property records I'm not going to get into the details of these but these play a big role in verifying the information and continuing research that you find from personal financial disclosures campaign finance records and voting records and then at the end of the day even though not all of these records are gonna be available online you can always ask for them if it is a document produced by the government it is considered a public record unless it is explicitly exempted even then you can seek to have the record release with redaction so never be afraid to make a public records request there's also if you are a little nervous about making a public records request or not sure how to go about it there are some great resources out there two of my personal favorites one is mock Rock mock rock is a tool a service that helps people make public records requests because sometimes they are you have to pay money they also will help you raise money to pay for these records requests a second tool is the National Freedom of Information Coalition they have templates for public records requests for all 50 states and the federal government each state has their own public records laws and the federal government operates on a separate public records law that includes everybody except for the White House so campaign finance reports any
candidate running for public office is going to have a campaign committee campaign committee has to report every dollar coming in and out you can go to the Federal Election Commission or it's usually the state elections office to get these records almost every state has them online some of them even have really great search tools Federal Election Commission as I said before has an API so that you can pull this information very quickly for an individual donating to a campaign you're going to get a lot of great Osen information just by looking at their donors every donor has their home address listed some of them will use a Pio box but for most individuals they will actually have their home address they'll also have their employer write employer and their occupation which isn't that interesting but if you're say you're looking for the CEO of a company CEOs often give political contributions they will you can search by an employer and then find all of their job titles and employees who have given political contributions obviously along with cert with obvious information like their partisanship are they giving to Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders are they giving to Donald Trump or Ted Cruz on the other side of the coin you have the disbursements where are they spending their money so this might be are they spending their money on literal buying a car are they spending their money on excessive what am I thinking of excessive luxury items there's one example where a candidate literally bought himself tickets to a football game using his campaign money that's illegal but you can find all this information all publicly recorded then you can also look at their campaign staff every member every individual who works at on a political campaign is going to be paid this is an example of Hope Hicks who was president Trump's communications director her name I redacted out her home address but all the personal addresses for all of the campaign staff is all going to be on their record some campaigns do some effort in order to minimize that sort of personal disclosure but for the most part that information is going to be out there then obviously how much the individual is getting paid you also get a list of vendors for a political campaign all of their consultants what software they're using where they're renting office space and who are they renting office space from next financial
disclosures I love personal financial disclosures you get a tremendous amount of information with the and every single politician at every level in every state and even some government bureaucrats are required by law to fill out financial disclosures that have you know what assets do they own what properties what businesses where is their income coming from unfortunately the only exceptions are going to be Idaho and Michigan only two states that don't have a financial disclosure law I don't know why Vermont just passed one so their financial disclosures aren't online but you can go and ask the Secretary of State I believe is going to have a be able to provide those documents these are all documents where all you have to do is ask and they will give them to you this is an example of a member of Congress there are assets as you can see you get an IRA bank accounts LLC's the second one from the bottom is going to be one that I'm going to reference in a little bit because a using that tying that to business registration records property records and then campaign finance records putting that all together showed some level of kind of brazen corruption let's talk a little bit about
legislative office disbursements so this is gonna be how where is a candidate or an elected officials office spending money any government dollar it's gonna come in or goes out there's going to be a receipt there needs to be a record of that US House of Representatives and the US Senate both published every I believe it's three months in the house and six months in the Senate every dollar that got spent so every member of their staff how much they got paid what their job titles are where they are traveling any political or any elected official when they travel overseas if that travel is being paid for if it's a hotel if it's any sort of fact-finding mission they have to file form so you can see where are they traveling who's paying for that travel and then vendors and equipment this is everything from literally who is supplying the water to the house to their house office that vendor who their printer is all of that is going to be listed out with how much they paid them and when they paid them voter
registration records I love voter records voter records can show you a tremendous amount and I know we've to hurt a lot recently about voter fraud I will talk a little bit about what legitimate cases of voter fraud do exist and how you can suss them out not wide-scale voter fraud voter fraud committed by an individual as you can see this is a sample voter registration form this is a public record has driver's license information on it date of birth home address all of that is going to be a public record depending on the state and jurisdiction they might redact some of that information but anyone who's ever made a public records request knows that redactions can be unredacted or government bureaucrats or people - they're going to make mistakes again this goes back to using this information responsibly you don't want to be use any of this information for any sort of nefarious means we're talking about using this to find corruption and misdeeds that can be exposed for the public good here so with that you also get date of birth social Atris partisanship most states require somebody to register with a certain political party other states allow you to be unaffiliated and then just choose a party ballot at the election which again voting history this is a very interesting record it's not usually something that's listed online but again you can just write a County Board of Elections official in there or County Clerk they'll give you this information for free in most cases you can get literally a list of every single election that they voted it and how they voted now when they say how they voted I don't mean you know did they vote for President Trump or do they vote for a Hillary Clinton I mean did they vote absentee do they vote in early voting did they vote in person did they not vote at all one of the most simple tax that you can ever make against a politician is going to be this person wants your vote but never bother to vote themselves so after you go through all this information you think you found
something it's in the public interest you think it might be an example of corruption somebody bought a house at a discount from a campaign donor somebody who was misusing government funds somebody loaned themselves money that they did not have what do you do with it
most important thing is about fleshing out the story I cannot tell you how many investigations that I've personally led in which for weeks we thought we found the silver bullet there is no silver bullet it's almost never what you think it is you want to go through and find out all the information that you wish you could find like you don't have you want to try and figure out what are all the possible explanations what are all the reasons why what I'm looking at isn't what I think it is then you want to see ok maybe this is maybe you think you've got exactly what it is it's a sample of a government official misusing government funds corruption you think this is a story well has it happened before can you find previous examples of this happening how was it used was it given to a reporter was it did somebody file a complaint with a certain government body what was the result so that way you can go back through those stories and then figure out what's missing from what information that you found then you want to think okay who is my audience this goes back to your goal at the very beginning you found something what do you want to do with it who is it that you want to tell you might want to tell them directly you might want to find an intermediary to help tell you this tell the story for you and then the last this is always very very great because all of these records and these types of investigations touch in many different types of areas of expertise law public records legislation always helpful to go and find somebody who knows more about the subject than you who might be able to give you some insight on that if you guys ever are in these types of investigations and you're not sure what you found that you want somebody else take a look at it like I said gave you my contact information I'm always happy to be honest with you about where you can look for for other information and as like I said before my Twitter oh boy de Miller easy to find so this is
actually a handy chart that I love to use when thinking about what is the impact of what I am going to find it's a little counterintuitive and a little depressing when you think about it how far down illegal activity is but the truth is that if somebody does something unethical not a lot of people are gonna care about it if somebody does something reprehensible this is going to be you know covering up sexual assaults paying out there's an example of this a member of Congress was using his office disbursement fund to pay out sexual harassment claims against them hypocritical nobody who likes a politician who says one thing it does another even though we think they all do immoral activity not a lot of immoral activity are you going to find through open source investigations but they might be the reason why you started an investigation into some then I said then like I said illegal activity and then unethical activity what I mean with this order of attention is the higher up this is the more likely that people are going to be interested in it the more likely that journalists are going to want to run with the story but also the more likely the level of scrutiny that will be on both the story and the person writing it again another reason why I generally don't like to self-publish oh no that disappeared all right so I
don't know how this happened the PowerPoint that I'm gonna upload online will have this filled out I just converted this to Apple Keynote for the first time I've never used keynote before so I apologize for this what this is supposed to say is first one is going to be your journalist these are going to be people will help you verify the information that you found they're a great resource and then for different types of journalists local journalists these are people who are going to know local politicians very well they might not have the most nuanced understanding of federal legislation or politics so they're very good if you're dealing with mayor's school board members local journalists are going to be your friend they're also very likely to publish the information just because of the lack of news out there national reporters these people are going to be experts in not just the subject that you're talking about but the individuals as well they're going to have a they're gonna be a great repository for being able to talk to us did you find something what is it how do you go about getting it out there then investigative journalists while I love investigative journalists the problem with them is that a lot of times it still requires a national journalist to pick up the story after an investigative journalist publishes it before it starts really breaking into the zeitgeist and then partisan journalists partisan journalists are going to be people with agendas for or against the subject the elected officials you are looking into if they have an agenda against that officials say you're looking into a Republican giving it to a liberal blog is going to be a great to get it out there the downside there being is again the level of legitimacy in order for it to get out there you know to reach a broader audience you're still gonna want it to reach and local or national traditional mainstream media reporter the second one is going to be your interested parties this is going to be you know the subject may be you found something you really like the subject maybe you're doing a vulnerability on the individual you like them you support them you found something that's questionable you want to let them know say hey I found this I just want to put this on your radar this might be something you guys have to deal with or maybe it's a totally innocuous it just helps those campaigns prepare for the possibility of that information coming out there by somebody who either misinterpreted it or doesn't care about the actual explanation then you have their opponents this is a great way of getting information into the hands of people who will use it the other side of the coin is they might not when obviously if I'm running for office and I say something about my political opponent people aren't necessarily going to give that a lot of credence however thanks to the First Amendment politicians when they're running for office are given a very very wide latitude in terms of what they can say it's why people say oh ho politicians lie all the time it's because they're allowed to be able to make a little bit more of an exaggeration or leave out the nuance of certain stories and then outside parties maybe you want to leak it to somebody who is going to be a super PAC a 527 organization a 501 C 4 your nonprofit political organizations that are going to get it out there but again with all of these once you get it out there and that's not just enough you want to be able to reach the audience that you are targeting which might mean releasing it to multiple groups maybe you give it to a reporter and you give it to the opponent see who releases it first because once you give it to these people you're giving it away you no longer have ownership of when it released unless that bottom box there is self-publishing this is always an option you found something nobody is biting on the story you really think it's important one get it out there tweet about it right a medium post if you've got a blog or a built-in audience give it out to them that's great in the sense that it doesn't preclude you from giving it to other people it's very likely that the subject and the opponent are and their political opponents are going to pick up on that and they might run with it they might look into it and say hey there's actually something here we're gonna run with the story now so you found something you want to give it to a journalist pitching a story to a
journalist first know the reporter do your research on who is writing these stories who is writing stories about the subject who is writing stories on the topic don't just reach out to a political reporter because you've heard their name in the news they're most likely not the person that's going to write that story so doing your research and making sure that if you're writing if you found something on somebody's campaign finance money in politics reporters exist in every major newspaper if you found something on a financial disclosure they're gonna be safe it's a member of Congress they're going to be Capitol Hill reporters there's going to be reporters who are going to be covering the election there's going to be individuals who have written a lot of stories about this subject and also don't get caught and releasing it to just one newspaper you might want to think about just because you like the New York Times you want to give it to them smaller newspapers are also going to be more likely to publish the story at a faster rate and take more of a risk in terms of sticking their neck out there when reaching out to a reporter start small and I please don't send them a five-paragraph screen on what you found with 30 attachments you will sound like a crazy person and they will not listen to you when I send something to a reporter 5 to 10 word subject line tip something about what it is one sentence introducing myself two sentence summary and that's it reporters just like everybody else they're busy people they're working on 30 40 stories at a time they're juggling a bunch of different information you don't know them they don't know you so to get them to listen you want it to be very very low cost for their and in in terms of time to be able to get that sort of information also be prepared when a reporter comes back to you it says that's interesting what did you find can you send me what you found don't make them wait a week to put together your package to verify all the information that you found do that before you reach out to a reporter this will also help give you more credibility with the reporter if you are doing these investigations overtime and you're gonna have multiple different pieces of information that you're gonna be giving them again don't over promise to a reporter don't tell them something that you didn't find don't draw the conclusion for them focus on I found something interesting this looks funny I always like to end with a question you know I'm not sure what this is if you might want to look into it more I think there might be something there be very open-ended to have them start the investigation make them more interested kind of leave a cliffhanger if there's something here I don't know what it is you might want to look into it and then finally I personally established my reputation with certain reporters over a long period of time working with them most of you probably don't know these reporters and again like I said they don't know you so be honest about who you are if you're working on behalf of a political campaign or a political group be honest about that don't lie because if you lie to a reporter that is a very very quick way to get them to ignore you completely also I now leave this up there or put this up there but with contacting reporters email Twitter DM s best ways to go don't call them reporters generally reserve phone calls for people who don't want things written down so when you're reaching out to them they're not going to take your phone call most people don't listen to voicemails anymore or leave voicemails like again a crazy person so you want to make sure that you sound like a sane normal person who has who's honest about who they are and what they found and you're just trying to get a reporter interested in the possibility of a story being there now if you just not to go down trout you want to self-publish it i hope it's up for your own personal interest in self-promotion please don't do that it will always backfire on you eventually but you want to get out there nobody is writing this so if you are gonna self publish first keep it simple just like with pitching a reporter right the elevator pitch your to sentence one minute of talking summary of what's going on simple language so that people don't get too caught up in the details verify all of this verify everything that you found because you are staking your reputation on this it could like many times I've seen it happen people will put something out there because they think they've found something great digging a little bit deeper and it turns out they were misinterpreting a document they thought something was illegal they said it was illegal it turns out there's a specific exemption in the law that was passed maybe 30 years after the original law was passed they didn't look into enough because they didn't ask an expert visualizations are great people love to be able to look at if you're trying to map out a network you know these tools like multigo are going to be great for being to help you visualize and then just take a screenshot put that at the top and then have an explanation of how that network comes together and sells your story be very very cautious with trying to be funny people tell jokes on Twitter all the time and then lose their jobs over it don't let an inappropriate joke distract from the story that you are trying to tell remember if you guys have a built-in audience your existing audience isn't necessarily going to be your target audience you might want it you might have an existing audience of people who are say interested in open-source intelligence but they're not political they might be overseas and not the constituency that you are trying to reach and then at the end of promote and picture-story once you self-published you are allowed to be able to just send that self publish that Twitter rant you know the media post send that off to a reporter give them the link give them the two-sentence pitch and say I wrote this up if you've got any questions need original documentation ask me about it two more tips on this the first one documentation this is where tools like punch li are going to be really really handy some of these records are going to get amended they're going to get taken offline you want to make sure that these records that you're citing the information that you found is going to be with you when you publish because when you self publish you become the story it is you saying I found this thing when you're dealing with political operations and elected officials there are literal micro economies around these officials there are individuals who have worked with them for 10 to 20 years whose entire careers are tied up in the success of this elected official there are consultants who built their entire firm around consulting for these elected officials when you go after one of them by saying that they are committing some sort of level of public corruption they're going to come after you they're going to do the same things that you guys would do and look into they're going to look into you who is this person what are their motivations how do i discredit them so you want to make sure that if you do choose to self publish you are geared up for that because that is absolutely going to happen so let's talk about how this
happens in the real world so first case
study in 2009 a congressman filed a financial disclosure report on this financial disclosure report he had six pages of transactions for stock sales he sold on one day 1.3 or as much as 1.3 million dollars in stock weird thing about that though was that he sold all of that stock on September 13th or 7 sorry September 17th 2008 on September 16 2008 day before Treasury secretary and the Federal Reserve Chairman hold a meeting with the leadership of Congress in Harry senator Harry Reid's office to let them know that AIG the largest insurer in the world is going to need a bailout and is ready to collapse two weeks after September 16 the stock market dive 777 points in a day and the Great Recession begins so between when Congress was notified in private before the public was notified before the stock market crashed this member of Congress got out liquidated a huge chunk of his assets now the question is did this congressman know in advance was he part of the meeting there's no actual record or list of who was in the meeting nor who those people told so this is an example of the
financial disclosure section of him selling all of those assets you can see the second column from the right that's the date of sales and then the column all the way to the right is a range of the value of the sale they don't have to be specific they get to be very generous about ranges which is why this sale of stocks somewhere between 90,000 and 1.3 million but you can say you'd be honest as much as 1.3 million don't say he sold 1.3 million because that's not what their records show also if you look you can see the actual names of all of the different stocks and the holdings that he had so what happened when somebody found this they wrote a book about it
very popular book published in 2011 on all of the different ways that members of Congress used private information that they were told confidentially as a member of Congress to sell or buy stocks because of the public impact of those conversations so this book was published in 2011 in 2012 Congress published our passes the stock act that makes this type of insider trading illegal kind of surprising it wasn't illegal already it was just unethical which again moves it up that order of attention from unethical behavior into illegal behavior money laundering so we
have a member of caught a candidate running for Congress this candidate loans his campaign three hundred and fifty five thousand dollars this candidate didn't have three hundred and fifty five thousand dollars to his name we know that because we looked at his financial disclosures so who did how did he get this money first place you look if you're like where did this money come from look at the parents this candidates parents right before he announced he was running for Congress sold a property for eight hundred thousand dollars just out of the blue so how did you find that how
did we find this information first looking at his campaign finance reports you can see there I highlighted at the bottom total amount of loans received three hundred and fifty five thousand dollars then you'd look at his financial disclosure reports and say well did he have this money did he have you have to disclose your checking accounts your savings accounts you can figure out a candidate's net worth very easily and say either they didn't have this type of money available or they would have to liquidate huge percentages of their net worth in order to create that type of income at which point you can say well where are the sale records as I showed you guys with the previous case study so this was information that was given to the candidates political opponents they used it against him they raised questions they filed complaints with the FEC this was in 2010 I know this is gonna come as a shock but this candidate won then the next cycle he lost so two years later he runs again and wins then in 2015 the Federal Election Commission finally gets the candidate to admit he didn't have this money it was given to him by his parents so what is the legal fallout of this the campaign had to give the money back that's it important to understand that you should always temper your expectations for what the outcome is going to be it's almost never going to be as great as you think it is ah one of
my personal favorites how to save three hundred thousand dollars on a home I think we all would like to do that unfortunately we are all not US senators I hope so in this case there's a home builder he has a friend who also happens to be a u.s. senator this home builder has given a lot of money to this campaign for this US Senator and even offered to host a fundraiser for him two months later the candidate buys a house buys the house for 700,000 the house market value 1 million so how did we find this
information first you would start with the voter registration records voter registration records like I said before give you the candidates home address look at the property records top is that is publicly available right online you can look it up right now you can see the seller and buyers name and the amount and the date so who was who was the seller they were a political donor then you start looking on giving context well finding a PDF of a fundraiser that they were hosting from two months before the sale date and then that bottom list with all of the assessments that's just from Zillow when you can see that between 2011 and 2012 the assessed value of the house dropped by 33 percent as well 37 percent that's because assessments are based on sale values when they sell so this candidate is also saving a bunch of money on their property taxes by getting the house it's such a big discount all
right now this is literally one of my favorite examples of open-source intelligence in no small part because of the outcome so in 2015 in February of 2015 Washington Post style reporter wants to write a story about a congressman's fancy congressional office shows up interviews the interior decorator that was paid with government funds to decorate this office in and I'm literally quoting the interior decorator in the style of Downton Abbey beautiful vases artwork I think the chairs were I you can look all of that was disclosed in Senate dispersement forms or House disbursement forms it was a member of Congress so this started sorry this is
here we go so this started people looking deeper into what the heck is this guy spending government money on and what they found looking at a car that he was using was it he had reimbursed himself for driving a hundred and seventy thousand miles in this car this car only had 80,000 miles on the odometer filing a false reimbursement form it turns out is a federal crime so this is also the candidate that I mentioned earlier used campaign money to go to a football game or to buy tickets to a football game used government money to buy the first-class tickets to go to that game so this happened very quickly from February of 2015 that Washington Post story is published people start digging into this guy who is he where is he spending his money well it turns out this he had a long history of doing things exactly like this the scrutiny became so much he resigned before he resigned he paid back a hundred 22,000 to the federal government for misusing those funds including 35,000 for the interior decorator and this is one of the few times I get to say there was really good news at the end of this he is also now currently facing 24 counts over misuse of government funds filing false reports bank fraud and wire fraud so last thing voter fraud voter
fraud is real and it does happen now it might not happen the way that some people who go on certain news channels are going to talk about it but here are a few ways in which you can use it right now to be able to find it voter fraud the first is going to be duplicate voting real voter fraud is going to be if you are voting in the same election in two jurisdictions at the same time while voting histories if you voted in those elections is going to be a public record very easy to find filing false registrations this might be giving a fake address or registering at an address you don't actually live at and then ballot petition fraud in a lot of jurisdictions you can avoid paying file excuse me filing fees for running for office by having people fill out ballot petitions for you saying I want this person to run it's great it's a great way for people who don't want to necessarily spend money to be able to get on the ballot and a lot of times it's a sign that you can get that type of support from your community however people falsify these ballot petitions you can get every single page of every single ballot petition they are public records again remember these records are created for you to inspect them so you can look at voter registration forms and voting histories property tax records if you fill out a voter registration form you are signing under penalty of perjury that you live at this address if you take what's called a homestead exemption which is also a form that you fill out under penalty of perjury saying that you live at address show that you can get an exemption on your property taxes or a reduction on them that's also two documents in which you are signing under penalty of perjury that you live at those places if those addresses are different you've got yourself an example of actual voter fraud or possibly tax fraud depending on which one they're lying although in any case I've ever found it it's usually both and then again a lot of these records aren't going to be available online so you can actually make the public records request to be able to get these records emailing they're all existing at the county level a few other quick examples I know we're
wrapping up so I just want to get through them real quick using more traditional Osen techniques resume exaggeration are they lying on their LinkedIn profile about a job that they had stolen valor huge problem in political campaigns I'm sure we have a few veterans in the room right now who would be very upset to find out people were lying about having served where they served straw donors this is very illegal a easy way to find out if there's a straw donor schema or what could be a straw donor scheme going on is if you have both a CEO of a company donating to a political campaign and a lot of employees donating to the political campaign who have jobs that don't necessarily indicate that they have the disposable income to give to that campaign straw donor scheme is where somebody reimburses somebody else for those political contributions a plagiarism there are a lot of automated tools like plate scan to be able to find if somebody plagiarized say their master's thesis the book that they just had ghostwritten before they run for president and very easy to find and very common also issue pages on campaign sites a great way to find out where are they stealing their copy from where who else is saying the same things about the same issues as them planes and yachts we've talked a little bit and I've heard other people talk about tracking boats and airplanes a good example of this in action was a candidate for US Senate actually sitting u.s. senator very very wealthy owns their own plane decided to be one of the common men take an RV tour of the state somebody looked at the candidates plane and noticed that it was going and tracking the exact same path as the RV over the whole state over the week and then finally web research you could find out you know view DNS is going to have all of the different websites registered by a candidate or by the candidates spouse a fun example of this is google the phrase towel charms I don't know what they are still but there is a wife of a very very high profile elected official who thought that they were going to be joining the private sector and needed to earn some real money registered I think 10 different domains for towel charms I don't still have no idea what they are and also looking at archived pages last thing before I wrap up is candidates especially candidates over who have been in a public office over a long period of time are going to have a long history of political websites those political websites what they talk about is going to change over time a great example of this is every single Democrat who is in office now who was in office in the 90s has flipped on the issue of marriage equality they will have statements from the 90s supporting Don't Ask Don't Tell or even just blanket opposing any sort of idea of marriage equality those statements are all going to be on their archive pages of their websites some candidate some of those candidates didn't even change their position until as recently as 2014 alright so looks like we're out of time so thank you guys so much please go out
there and do some good [Applause] [Music]