Vogel denies involvement in email against rival for lieutenant governor

By Jill Palermo

Special to the Culpeper Times

Sen. Jill Vogel
Sen. Jill Vogel

Virginia State Sen. Jill Vogel said Monday she’s “horrified” by recent reports linking her husband Alex Vogel’s cell phone number with an email accusing State Sen. Bryce Reeves of having an affair with a campaign aide, which Reeves has denied.

“I am horrified by this and I am as upset as Senator Reeves,” Vogel said in an email to The Fauquier Times. “Unfortunately, we only learned about this in the last few days and we are doing everything in our power to get to the bottom of it.”

Vogel, R-27th, is running against Reeves, R-17th, and Del. Glenn Davis, R-84th, for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor in a primary this June. She represents Fauquier County and parts of Culpeper County in the state’s upper chamber and is a partner in the law firm Holtzman Vogel Josefiak Torchinsky, based in Warrenton and Washington.

She and her husband live in Upperville with their children. Alex Vogel, also an attorney, is a partner with the VogelHood Group, a policy research and consulting firm.

Reeves filed a defamation of character lawsuit in Stafford County Circuit Court in October against a “Martha McDaniel,” the signer of an email sent to some of his supporters Sept. 30. The email was sent from the address staffordforfreedom@gmail.com and accused Reeves of having the extramarital affair.

The Washington Post included the text of the email in a story by reporter Laura Vozzella, published Jan. 1.

“I am writing to you today concerning your public support for the candidacy of Sen. Bryce Reeves to be our next lieutenant governor,” the email stated. “As a Christian, I am deeply troubled by Sen. Reeves personal conduct. People around the commonwealth have repeatedly talked about the fact that Sen. Reeves is carrying on an open and obvious adulterous relationship with his campaign staffer and constant companion.”

Through subpoenas to Google and two internet service providers, Reeves found out the Gmail account was associated with a cell phone belonging to Alex Vogel, according to the Post’s report.

The email account was accessed via two IP addresses, one associated with the Vogels’ Upperville home and the other with their neighbors, James and Lisa Gable, the Post report said. The Gable’s daughter, Helen Anne, a student at Southern Methodist University, has served as an intern with Sen. Vogel’s “Vogel for Lt. Governor” campaign.

Like many in Fauquier County, the Vogels share an internet connection with their neighbors. The account is not protected by a password, Lisa Gable, told the Post.

On Monday, a statement sent to the Times from Jill Vogel by her campaign manager, Pat Trueman, denied any involvement with the email and suggested it might be the work of hackers.

“We certainly did not send, approve or authorize any anonymous communications,” Vogel’s statement said. “We would never condone such tactics, nor would we permit a campaign employee or volunteer to do so on behalf of our campaign.”

The statement indicated that Vogel has not spoken with Reeves directly about the emails but found out about them “though his conversations with third parties,” presumably the media.

“We take these assertions from Senator Reeves’s campaign very seriously. Having only been informed [of] Senator Reeves’ claims through his conversations with third parties after Christmas, there has been no opportunity to determine their veracity,” the statement continued. “Regrettably, in this day and age, there are many ways a person can send an anonymous email and make it appear to have originated from another sender.”

Sam Azzarelli, Reeves’s communications director, said Reeves had not heard from the Vogels as of Tuesday morning. In response to the suggestion the Vogels’ email might have been hacked, Azzarelli issued a statement saying they have requested the Vogels submit their phones and other devices for inspection by an independent third party.

“Through this process, all we’ve been concerned about are the facts,” the statement said. “Right now, all the evidence points in one direction. If the Vogels are willing to go through a mutually agreed upon third party to have their phones, computers, and electronic devices forensically tested to determine if, and who, might have hacked into their cell phone, and multiple IP addresses, we will help fund it to find out if they were truly hacked.”
Jill Palermo can be reached at jpalermo@fauquier.com.