A conservative watchdog group says they have uncovered private opposition research files compiled by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee on dozens of Republican candidates for Congress that accidentally ended up on Google.
The group, Media Trackers, said they found the files — which include research on Florida Rep. Allen West — online because of an “IT glitch on the DCCC’s web server that allowed Google searches for opposition research terms related to Republican candidates to pull the files up.”
The group released 12 of the files they uncovered on its website Thursday.
“This could be the single biggest political intelligence coup of the 2012 battle for Congress,” said Brian Sikma, a spokesman for Media Trackers. “The twelve files we are releasing today are not available on the DCCC website and the intended timing of their release – if at all – by Democrats is not known.”
Other Republicans included in the uncovered files include New York Republican Nan Hayworth and California Rep. Dan Lungren.
Sikma said the information provides “provide a treasure trove of information outlining likely lines of attack that Democratic candidates will use against Republicans.”
“More important than the actual information though is that the DCCC’s server had an IT flaw that exposed sensitive files to Google,” he said. “There is probably no way to know the extent of how many files – opposition research or otherwise – that have been compromised.”
A DCCC spokesman denied on Thursday that the information has been private, providing links to where the same documents are on the organization’s website. “This information is posted on our public website, where voters can learn what their Republican member of Congress has said and done,” DCCC spokesman Jesse Ferguson told The Daily Caller.
But Sikma of Media Trackers still strongly disputed that the information for the 12 candidates whose files they released has always been intentionally linked online from the DCCC website. “This stuff wasn’t up there yesterday,” he told TheDC.
“They have to save face,” Sikma said. “We’ve been sitting on this for over four weeks and it wasn’t out in public.”
*This post has been updated to add response from Ferguson, and additional comments from Sikma.