Lynn Hurtak’s husband is in hot water with the FBI, but maybe she should be in hot water with the city
Image via Lynn Hurtak.

Lynn Hurtak
Had voters known all of the details of the FBI investigation before Hurtak was elected, would she still have won?

In a follow-up Thursday to news surrounding media consultant Tim Burke’s alleged computer hacks of Fox News videos, reporter Olivia George asked a salient question: The feds were interested in a Tampa City Council computer. Why?

When FBI agents raided Tampa City Council member Lynn Hurtak’s home searching for any devices used by her husband, a media consultant and freelance journalist, they took not only Hurtak’s personal and campaign computers, but her official city laptop as well.

It would be easy to dismiss the FBI’s inclusion of her devices, even though she wasn’t the one suspected of a crime, as due diligence. Dotting I’s and crossing T’s, that sort of thing. Except for some key details that should not be overlooked, least of which is a burning question.

If the FBI didn’t suspect that Hurtak’s city laptop was involved in the crimes for which her husband was suspected, why would they “specifically request” it as something they’d want to examine?

Burke’s lawyer told the Tampa Bay Times that the FBI “held onto it for about 10 hours, and in court filings the lawyers wrote the FBI suspected Burke might have used his wife’s laptop.”

Hurtak didn’t respond to the Times when they asked about it — because everyone knows allowing someone else to use a government device is a big no-no in the most innocent of circumstances, and certainly if used in the commission of a potential crime — but Burke’s lawyer, Mark Rasch, told the paper that Burke “does not use that computer.”

If Rasch were a non-lawyer sort of person, his use of the word “does” instead of “didn’t” might just be a coincidence or oversight. But words have meaning, and lawyers perhaps better than anyone know this. To say Burke “does not use that computer” specifically means that he doesn’t use it now, in the present. To say Burke did not use it, in the past tense, would indicate that Burke hadn’t used the laptop in the past — you know, like in the commission of an alleged crime.

But Rasch said “does,” implying, at least perhaps, that Burke may have used his wife’s city laptop at some point in the past.

What makes this whole scenario even more fishy is that, according to the Times, Hurtak requested and was granted a new laptop. She didn’t tell them the laptop she was returning in favor of a smaller one had been subject to the FBI search of her home and property. Had she informed the city, it’s likely officials would have preserved its contents just in case there were ever need for additional inquiries as part of the FBI investigation.

And while so many Tampa residents — Hurtak supporters, no doubt — have rallied around Burke, even raising money for his legal defense because they believe he was acting as an investigative journalist and under protection granted by the First Amendment, there is an awful lot of evidence to suggest there were, at a minimum, some poor decisions made.

Burke has been indicted on 14 federal crimes. He’s accused of conspiracy related to “utilizing compromised credentials to gain unauthorized access to protected computers, scouring those protected computers for electronic items and information, obtaining and stealing electronic items and information deemed desirable, organizing and exploiting some of those electronic items and information, and intercepting and disclosing contents of wire, oral and/or electronic video communications.”

The case relates to content that Burke obtained of unaired clips of Fox News host Tucker Carlson making inappropriate remarks, and of Kanye West making antisemitic comments.

Rasch argues that Burke obtained the clips legally, explaining to the Columbia Journalism Review that while networks like Fox often livestream high definition content that’s encrypted, they also stream low-definition versions that are unencrypted, meaning they don’t require a user ID or password.

It’s a clever argument, and maybe it will be successful. But it also sounds a little like Burke’s lawyer is making an argument akin to saying it’s OK to enter someone’s home without permission and help yourself to whatever is inside so long as the door is unlocked. And obviously, that is ridiculous.

At the end of the day, the United States has a justice system that operates under the notion, “innocent until proven guilty,” and that’s a good thing. It also means Burke will be afforded due process and will get his day in court.

But considering the allegations against him, not to mention the temporary seizure of his wife’s city laptop and her silence on the matter to city staff, one has to wonder whether this is something the city should investigate internally as well.

And even more certain is the question — had voters known all of this before Hurtak was elected, would she still have won?

After all, it was only nine days after Hurtak secured victory over former state Sen. Janet Cruz that the FBI raided her home — a home she shares with her husband who has in the past bragged about working with the notorious hacking group Anonymous. If Burke is indeed a skilled hacker, and he had access to Hurtak’s city laptop, what might have occurred on that computer?

Peter Schorsch

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises Media and is the publisher of, INFLUENCE Magazine, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. Previous to his publishing efforts, Peter was a political consultant to dozens of congressional and state campaigns, as well as several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella. Follow Peter on Twitter @PeterSchorschFL.


  • Pancho Villar

    March 26, 2024 at 12:04 pm

    Quite the speculative leap based on her attorney stating “does” vs. “didn’t.” Additionally, FL public records law would require Tampa officials to retain files and documents from Hurtak’s laptop for the requisite period. Switching to a smaller laptop doesn’t disappear all contents of the prior laptop. Lots of speculation in this one, Peter, not enough evidence of wrongdoing.

  • Pete’s wife

    March 27, 2024 at 7:28 am

    This site is pay for play bro.

Comments are closed.


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