Santa Clara County Assessor accuses candidate of hacking him

Match.com founder who became famous in the 90s for registering domain name “sex.com” called claim “crazy and ridiculous”

Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone and Match.com founder Gary Kremen (Santa Clara County Assessor's, Santa Clara Valley Water District)
Santa Clara County Assessor Larry Stone and Match.com founder Gary Kremen (Santa Clara County Assessor's Office, Santa Clara Valley Water District)

The longtime Santa Clara County official in charge of estimating property values has a bone to pick with a political opponent.

Assessor Larry Stone accused Match.com founder Gary Kremen of obtaining his personal email list and contacting workers at his office to ask for their support, the Mercury News reported. Kremen called the accusations “crazy and ridiculous,” saying the list became public record when Stone sent them to elected officials.

The hacking claim, which Stone made in a Jan. 13 email to his network, comes less than five months before the June primary. Stone, who has served as county assessor for more than two decades, is facing Kremen and Andrew Crockett in his bid for an eighth term. One of his office’s functions is to estimate property values, which jumped almost 5 percent last year to a record $577 billion.

Stone said he learned Kremen was contacting members of his office and asking for their political support earlier this month, a move he called “questionably ethical” if those employees could be working with his opponent in the future. His personal email list contains hundreds of friends, family, business associates and elected officials, Stone said, including a sister in Seattle whom he said received a request for support from Kremen. Multiple people who received such requests, including some of his employees, told Stone about them, he said in the email.

“It is unfair to put the employees in that position,” his email said. He’s contacted the Office of the County Counsel to investigate Kremen, the Mercury News reported.

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Kremen told the newspaper that he received Stone’s personal email list and that he used it to solicit support for his campaign and denied obtaining it through hacking. A county official whom he declined to name shared the list with him after Stone copied it in an email, Kremen said.

“He sent out (the emails) to a bunch of public officials, and when you send things to public officials, it’s a public record,” Kremen told the publication. “In his seven terms of being assessor, he clearly doesn’t understand how CC or BCC works. We need to be in the world of Amazon, not in the world of Sears, Roebuck.”

Kremen denied Stone’s claim that he contacted workers in his office, adding that they had contacted him because they weren’t satisfied with his leadership. The county counsel didn’t respond to the Mercury News’ request for comment.

In addition to founding Match.com, Kremen gained fame in the 1990s for registering the domain name “sex.com,” the Mercury News reported. He is director of the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

[The Mercury News] — Matthew Niksa

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