HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Alabama U.S. Senate race from 2017 resulted in the upset victory by Democrat Doug Jones over Republican Roy Moore, but in recent weeks details have started emerging about a false flag operation during that election aimed at confusing Republican voters and helping Jones.
During the last two weeks of the 2017 special election, Alabama voters were targeted on Twitter and Facebook, the New York Times reported Monday, with calls for a ‘dry Alabama,’ basically an alcohol ban.
The messages were sometimes attached to support for Moore, but appealed to voters’ morality. The messages were also fake. The Twitter account @dryalabama has since been suspended.
There was no alcohol ban on the ballot, just the Senate race, but the false flag operation was aimed at pitting pro-business Republicans who tend to favor wet counties and the dollars alcohol sales bring against more religious conservative voters.
Moore, who traditionally has drawn strong support from rural Alabama, complained today about the tactics.
"As a conservative Christian, I was unfairly attacked by a high-tech cyber disinformation campaign in the 2017 race for U.S. Senate that violated not only my rights but also the right of every Alabama voter to participate in a fair election," he said.
Matt Osborne, a Florence-area political writer and activist, was part of the effort. He`s written the aim was to deter suburban white males voters from supporting Moore. He said 3 million voters were targeted during the Senate special election.
Osborne told WHNT News 19 Monday that he’d rather see Congress regulate political disinformation efforts, but there’s currently nothing illegal about such tactics. Osborne said it would be a mistake to voluntarily quit using those tools when they’re also used by Republicans.
Osborne said he mapped out the strategy in 2017 online with other Democratic activists.
On Twitter today he said he opposes false flag operations, writing:
Jones has denied any knowledge of the effort and he`s indicated he`ll file a complaint with federal election officials.
Moore says voters should be wary of similar efforts in the future.
“Apologies, retractions, or even feigned calls for an investigation by my former opponent can do little to right the wrong,” Moore said. “Nevertheless, with the 2020 elections drawing near, our entire country should be alerted to the dangers of fraud and deception in our political process."