Dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign may have vi­o­lated law, at­tor­ney gen­eral says

The Mercury News Weekend - - NEWS -

Alabama At­tor­ney Gen­eral Steve Mar­shall said Thurs­day that his of­fice is exploring whether dis­in­for­ma­tion tac­tics de­ployed against Repub­li­can Roy Moore dur­ing last year’s spe­cial elec­tion vi­o­lated state cam­paign laws and said he was wor­ried that the oper­a­tion could have af­fected the closely fought Se­nate race.

“The in­for­ma­tion is con­cern­ing,” Mar­shall, a Repub­li­can, said in a phone in­ter­view. “The im­pact it had on the elec­tion is some­thing that’s sig­nif­i­cant for us to ex­plore, and we’ll go from there.”

Moore lost the elec­tion to Demo­crat Doug Jones.

Mar­shall, who said he learned of the dis­in­for­ma­tion cam­paign called Project Birm­ing­ham through news re­ports over the past two weeks, stopped short of an­nounc­ing a for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion but said his of­fice was be­gin­ning to gather in­for­ma­tion about the ef­fort.

“We’re plan­ning to ex­plore the is­sue fur­ther,” Mar­shall said.

Jones on Thurs­day also re­it­er­ated his sup­port for a fed­eral in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the mat­ter, days after the Demo­cratic se­na­tor said the Fed­eral Elec­tion Com­mis­sion and the Depart­ment of Jus­tice should probe the ef­fects of dis­in­for­ma­tion on the race. The Demo­cratic se­na­tor said Thurs­day he had di­rected his team “to pre­pare a for­mal re­quest to file with the ap­pro­pri­ate fed­eral au­thor­i­ties who have ju­ris­dic­tion over these mat­ters.”

“Il­le­gal in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions are a se­ri­ous threat to our democ­racy, re­gard­less of where these ac­tiv­i­ties orig­i­nate or who they seek to sup­port,” Jones said.

The FEC did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment.

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