HUNTSVILLE, Ala. — U.S. Sen. Doug Jones is asking the Federal Election Commission to investigate misinformation campaign tactics used against his opponent Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Special Election.
Jones has denied having any knowledge of the efforts waged on his behalf.
His defeat of Moore by 22,000 votes was considered a major upset in Republican-dominated Alabama. Moore’s campaign was also rocked by allegations dating back 40 years, that he pursued and engaged in sexual activity with high school girls, while he was a prosecutor in Etowah County.
Jones made the formal request Wednesday, citing reports from the New York Times and Washington Post that outlined tactics employed against Moore, including faking that he’d received a sharp boost in Russian-named followers on Twitter who’d amplify his message and using a fake campaign pushing an alcohol ban in Alabama to divide Republican voters.
In his letter, Jones said such tactics should be not be used.
“Specifically, recent news reports indicate that an organization, Investing in Us, and a company called New Knowledge, funded projects to create two Facebook pages in connection with the recent special election for the United States in Alabama in December of 2017,” Jones wrote. “I am truly outraged by these news reports. Such deceptive tactics have no place in American politics and must be repudiated by those involved in our political system.”
Moore has been critical of Jones’ calls for an investigation, saying the damage has already been done.
Jones’ letter says the campaign tactics might have violated the Federal Campaign Act in connection to a U.S. Senate election, but doesn’t spell out any possible violations.
Matt Osborne, a Florence-area political writer and activist, was part of the effort. He’s written the aim was to deter suburban white male 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.