Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House decided, this week, to replace Matthew Masterson, who is the chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission. Masterson has played a substantial role in helping to protect states from possible Russian cyber attacks against U.S. elections.
Backing up a bit, in mid-February, Masterson expressed his strong concern over the election manipulation issue.
“The threat is real and the response needs to be robust and coordinated," said Matthew Masterson, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, an independent agency of the U.S. government that provides information about how to administer elections. "Folks in the election community are taking the threats very seriously and taking whatever steps they can to address it.
Now, less than two weeks later, Masterson gets the boot by Republicans. Paul Ryan and the White House seem to be interfering—with exposing Russian interference. They have their own idea of how to deal with it. In an email to Reuters, Paul Ryan’s spokesperson AshLee Strong stated:
“The appointment expired in December and we are going in a different direction for our nomination. We nominate people for a variety of positions and generally speaking choose our own folks,”
Strong added that Masterson’s removal is just “routine.” Some don’t see it that way.
Masterson has been a popular figure among state election officials, many of whom have praised his expertise and leadership on cyber security issues and expressed chagrin at his pending departure. The agency was created by Congress in 2002 to assist states in complying with federal election standards.
The action raises fresh questions over the degree to which Republican President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who control Congress are taking steps to protect the security of American elections, and some state officials have accused them of doing too little to address the threat.
Federal intelligence agencies recently warned American voters that Russia intends to interfere/corrupt our 2018 November elections as they did in the 2016. During the February Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, Dan Coats, Director of National Intelligence stated:
“We expect Russia to continue using propaganda, social media, false-flag personas, sympathetic spokesmen and other means to influence, to try to build on its wide range of operations and exacerbate social and political fissures in the United States," Coats said at a hearing on worldwide threats. "There should be no doubt that Russia perceives its past efforts as successful and views the 2018 US midterm elections as a potential target for Russian influence operations."
Why would Paul Ryan, during such a critical time, make cuts to the Election Assistance Commission staff—rather than build it up?
“It is pretty remarkable that in this environment, given the importance of this issue, that the speaker would choose this moment to not reappoint the person doing the most work in this area,” said Judd Choate, Colorado’s election director and the immediate past president of the National Association of State Election Directors.
Remarkable, yes. Surprising, no.
Due to the untraceable aspects of hacking, there is no stated proof of how Russian interference affected the results of the 2016 elections, but there’s no doubt that it’s all been working for Republicans and Donald Trump. Why would they want to fix something, which for them—isn’t broken? Shouldn’t Ryan be ramping up cyber security against Russian hackers? Shouldn’t Trump be more concerned with the country’s welfare? Of course, they should be, but they’re not interested in protecting the people and American democracy. They’re interested in protecting their own interests by winning again. They know that it doesn’t matter how great our Democratic candidates are or how many people show up to vote against them, if the Midterms Elections are hacked, Republicans stand to win and continue their self-serving corruption. And that is unacceptable.
So, we know what the problems are—what are the solutions? There have been numerous articles written on the subject by reputable news groups. One of the most comprehensive reports is by Emily Stewart with VOX. Stewart interviewed nine security experts who discussed what they believe can be done. You can read her article here.
We have only months to protect the Midterm Elections from being corrupted, all the while wading through nonstop diversions by Trump. Democratic leaders, Congress members, liberal organizations and voters must stop expecting, requesting or waiting for Trump and Republicans to cooperate. If it doesn’t benefit the GOP, it’s not going to happen. They’ve shown that they couldn’t care less about the people of this country.
Ultimately, the welfare of the American people—is up to the American people. And there is never a better time to stand up and speak out for what’s right than now. We can contact our Democratic leaders and Congress members, ask them what they’re doing to #ProtectOurVote for the upcoming elections, continue to take to the streets, protest, rally, resist and persist. If we can block foreign election interference/hacking, we can win majority in the House and possibly the Senate this November and proceed with indictments, impeachments and real American justice. This we can do.