AG Marshall exploring whether Democrats’ ‘Russian tactics’ in Jones election may have broken state law
Attorney General Steve Marshall is exploring whether Democratic tech operatives who used “Russian tactics” in a “deceptive” disinformation campaign to boost Doug Jones’ candidacy in 2017 may have violated state law, according to a report by the Washington Post.
“The information is concerning,” Marshall told the Washington Post 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.”
Marshall said he learned of the Democratic disinformation campaign, which has been dubbed “Project Birmingham,” through recent news reports. Alabama’s attorney general stopped short of announcing a formal investigation but explained that his office was beginning to gather information about the efforts.
Jones, who also said he learned of the efforts through news reports, has welcomed investigations by the Department of Justice and the Federal Election Commission (FEC). Reid Hoffman, the California billionaire who apologized for unwittingly funding the efforts, has also welcomed federal investigation.
Hoffman has called Project Birmingham “highly disturbing,” claiming he was not aware his money was being used for the efforts recently revealed by Democratic operatives via an internal report.
Facebook has suspended the account of Jonathon Morgan and four others earlier this week for their alleged participation in the campaign. Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn and was also an early Facebook investor.
Alabama Republican Party Chairman Terry Lathan told Yellowhammer News, “It is alarming and deeply disturbing that Democrats took part in this sham.”
Perhaps the most startling revelation in the Project Birmingham internal report was that of the operatives’ “false flag” operation where they essentially admitted to manufacturing a false story against Republican nominee Roy Moore that national media outlets then ran with. This involved a scheme to link Moore’s campaign to thousands of Russian Twitter accounts that suddenly began following his account.
“We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet,” the report bragged, later calling it “radicalizing Democrats with a Russian bot scandal.”
The report also explained that the efforts intentionally sought to “enrage and energize Democrats” and “depress turnout” among Republicans, in part by amplifying accusations that Moore had pursued inappropriate relations with teenage girls when he was a prosecutor in his 30s.
Sean Ross is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn