Norfolk, Virginia, Mayor Paul Fraim is one of the government officials accused of being a Ku Klux Klan member by the online hacker and activist group called Anonymous.
The group has declared it will shut down the notorious hate group, in part by exposing the names of government officials it says are affiliated with it.
Fraim is among the elected officials named in a file posted to the web repository Pastebin by an activist named "Amped Attacks."
Fraim, a Democrat, was first elected mayor in 1994, and has held the post ever since. Fraim took to social media to rebut the allegations, writing on his Facebook account, "People have been spreading a report from the Internet that I am involved with the KKK. This report is a hoax and is absolutely false."
In a press release, Fraim went further, stating, "The claim by Anonymous that I am in anyway affiliated or related to the KKK is absolutely false and defamatory. There is no truth to their statement whatsoever. I am not and have never been affiliated with any such organization. I find it incredulous that these people can hide behind their computers and create such an inaccurate and hateful statement."
Anonymous responded to Fraim via its Twitter account with, "Sure it is. #Nov. 5th."
The date refers to the Guy Fawkes-inspired group's plan to expose what it claims are up to 1,000 people it says are part of the Klan.
In a series of Twitter posts, Anonymous promised "to pull the curtain on you and expose you for who you truly are. And you will burn at the stake."
According to a TechCrunch interview with "Amped Attacks," the list of elected officials posted was an individual effort. The website quotes "Amped Attacks" as saying he “worked for nine days to gather and verify all the information that was gathered before its release."
The hacker said he acquired the information "from several KKK websites when I [hacked] them and was able to dump their database."
"Amped Attacks" also told TechCrunch he was particularly interested in the names of politicians he found in the data. But he also said "there would be no reason for them to be signed up on any KKK website unless they supported it or was involved in it.”
Politicians' names are frequently used for malicious purposes. Spoofing sites that allegedly gather donations for a candidate but actually flow to other entities, hacked social media and email accounts and more are all pitfalls modern officeholders must face.
Several politicians' names were exposed when the user data of the online cheating site Ashley Madison was made public earlier this year. Included on the list were Virginia Senate Democratic leader Donald McEachin and Senate majority leader Tommy Norment.
McEachin told the Richmond Times-Dispatch his email account had been hacked, and later told WTVR News, “At this time, this is a personal issue between my family and me. I will have no further statement on this issue.”