The GOP Broke Campaign Finance Laws Using Coded Tweets During Midterms (And Who Knew They Could Even Use Twitter?)
The GOP may have used some less-than-savory tactics to secure their victory in the midterm elections earlier this month. According to an original investigative report from CNN's Chris Moody, it appears as though the GOP used throwaway Twitter accounts to share internal data regarding House elections before the midterms. The actions, if confirmed, may have violated election laws that prohibit campaign teams from coordinating with outside groups.
The laws CNN has in mind state that groups (like super PACs and non-profits) can spend all they want on political causes, but they must not coordinate their plans with campaigns. The reasoning behind this is that the private exchange of inside information could give campaign teams an unfair advantage in securing the election.
According to Moody, the accounts — @TruthTrain14 and @brunogianelli44 — were public, basically in plain sight, but only those who knew how to read the codes were able to understand the Tweets. To add insult to injury, the accounts were even named cheekily after famous corrupt characters in political dramas like The West Wing, according to CNN. These accounts were active even after the midterms until CNN contacted the National Republican Congressional Committee with questions, after which they were promptly deleted. Hm. Sounds like some pretty shady stuff.
But it's not entirely clear if the GOP broke the law, or just found a very convenient loophole. Moody writes that the law doesn't exactly have a provision for social media, and the fact that the accounts were public doesn't help the case against them either. Additionally, the accounts and Tweets cannot be traced back to specific group — so even if they were illegal, it would be hard to figure out who to press charges against.
CNN spoke to Paul S. Ryan (not that one,) senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, who said:
It's a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge. It might not be legal. It's a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility.
Even weirder still is that some Republicans accused Democrats of doing more or less the some thing just earlier this year, which would make this incident the definition of hypocrisy. In any case, here's hoping CNN and authorities get to the bottom of this mess, and soon.
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