Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson is denying that he gave away classified information when he told reporters last week that Russians have "penetrated" Florida's election records.
"That's ridiculous," Nelson said, pointing to an NBC story that cited three unnamed intelligence sources who corroborated Nelson's claim about Russian interference.
"It says that three classified sources confirmed. That's not saying anything about me using classified information, which I obviously didn't," Nelson said Saturday. "I did exactly what the leadership of the Senate Intelligence Committee — both the Republican chairman and the vice-Chairman — asked Marco Rubio and I to give that warning."
But the NBC story said that "there is a classified basis for Nelson's assertion" that Russians had hacked Florida's election system.
The state is still asking questions of Nelson, who's in a tough re-election fight against Republican Gov. Rick Scott. In a news release Tuesday, Scott said, "Bill Nelson must come clean – did he lie to Floridians or did he release classified information?"
Sarah Revell, the communications director for the Florida Department of State, said her office has received "no evidence that Florida's voting systems or election records have been compromised."
"We have reached out directly to Senator Bill Nelson and are awaiting his response," Revell said.
When asked about the department’s inquiry, Nelson said the state’s elections officials should have the information they need to protect the state’s voter rolls.
"I think now that it's out there on the open on what is the potential threat, I think the supervisors will make sure that their systems are secure."
Nelson's comments came at a canvassing event with Democratic state Rep. Janet Cruz, who's running to unseat Republican state Sen. Dana Young.
A few conservative protesters gathered outside the event at Cruz's campaign headquarters in Tampa, chanting "No more Nelson!"
One of the protesters brought a sign emblazoned with two large words: "Leaker Nelson."
Times Washington bureau chief Alex Leary contributed reporting.