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Former US Senator Rod Grams' (Republican, Minnesota) wife, Christine Gunhus, has pleaded no contest to charges of sending pseudonymous e-mail nastygrams maligning her husband's Democratic rival, Mike Ciresi, in flagrant violation of Minnesota election regulations, Washington correspondent Declan McCullagh reports via his Cluebot Web site.

Ciresi lost the primary, but Grams lost the general election and failed to regain his Senate seat.

The technologically semi-literate Gunhus apparently believed that sending her messages as 'Katie Stevens' from a Hotmail account (kylomb@hotmail.com) would cover her tracks. How surprised she must have been to learn that prosecutors had not the slightest trouble tracing the originating IP back to a machine at her residence, and verifying that the account's chief user dialed in from a phone also located there.

Gunhus' electronic trail of breadcrumbs extended even further, just in case the police were asleep at the switch. "The e-mail attacks included Microsoft Word attachments, which a Ciresi aide investigated. The aide found that Word listed the document authors as Grams staffers including -- you guessed it -- Christine Gunhus," McCullagh says.

The charge to which Gunhus has pleaded carries a possible 90-day jail sentence and a fine of $210 to $700, but prosecutors have agreed not to seek jail time in the case. ®

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