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Coleman Senate campaign in donor data leak mess

Campaign alerts Norm Coleman contributors about a data breach after Wikileaks' warning that donor database information was exposed.

This is a screenshot of the e-mail Coleman's campaign sent to supporters warning them about the data leak. Minnesota Independent

The campaign of Republican Norm Coleman, who is engaged in a fierce legal battle to keep his Senate seat from Democrat Al Franken, has warned supporters that their credit card numbers may have been exposed on the Internet.

His campaign manager, Cullen Sheehan, said the office became aware of a possible security breach of the donor database in January, however an investigation found the data had not been accessed by an unauthorized party, according to a report on Wednesday in the Minneapolis-St. Paul Star Tribune.

Supporters received an e-mail from the nonprofit Wikileaks site on Tuesday night saying the Coleman campaign had leaked donor information and that it was on the Wikileaks Web site, as well as another e-mail providing some of the data in a spreadsheet as evidence, the report says. The spreadsheet contained information for more than 4,700 donors. But Wikileaks said it has data on more than 51,600 Coleman contacts.

Sheehan e-mailed supporters on Wednesday urging them to cancel their credit cards and hinted at political espionage. Coleman has asked federal authorities to investigate, according to the Star Tribune.

A report in The Minnesota Independent quotes an IT professional who says she was testing the security of the campaign's Web site in January and was easily able to access data without hacking.

IT consultant Adria Richards said she got the site's IP address by entering "colemanforsenate.com" into an OpenDNS cache-check tool, and then copied the IP address into a Firefox browser to reveal the Web site directories for colemanforsenate.com, the report says. She then posted a screen capture of what she found online and wrote about the security problems on her blog.

Richards began her investigative computer work after Coleman's campaign was accused of falsely claiming that its Web site crashed after being overwhelmed by traffic from people who were allegedly disenfranchised voters.

Coleman is challenging Franken's lead of 225 votes, following a recount. The case is being heard by a special three-judge panel. Closing arguments are expected to begin Friday in the trial, which has gone on for seven weeks.