Reform Groups Call Out Speaker Ryan for Failure to Take Action to Prevent Foreign Intervention in Future Elections

Feb. 12, 2018 – In a letter sent to House Speaker Paul Ryan, fourteen reform groups and watchdogs expressed their deep concern about Ryan’s failure “to take any action to prevent Russia from interfering in our elections in 2018, as Russia plainly did in 2016.”

The letter charged that Ryan has “failed to protect the nation’s security, the integrity of our presidential and congressional elections, and the interests of the American people.”

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According to the letter:

The nation’s intelligence agencies have concluded “with high confidence” that Russian agents worked to interfere in the 2016 presidential election on the orders of Russian President Putin. The agencies further concluded that one of Russia’s goals was “to undermine public faith in the U.S. democratic process.”

The letter also noted that CIA Director Mike Pompeo said he has “every expectation” that Russia will try to influence the 2018 congressional elections.

The letter stated:

Yet, inexplicably, you have not pursued any of the proposed legislative remedies to directly address this dangerous problem, leaving our country highly vulnerable to Russian or other foreign efforts to sabotage the 2018 congressional, state and even local elections, as well as future elections.

According to the letter:

Furthermore, you have stood by silently as House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes abandoned the investigation into Russian intervention in the 2016 presidential election and instead used his Chairmanship to pursue a spurious investigation of the Justice Department and FBI.

The letter to Speaker Ryan noted that there “are bipartisan bills pending in the House that set forth various proposals to address foreign intervention in our elections. But you have done nothing to pursue any of these reform measures.”

The letter said Speaker Ryan’s “failure to move any legislation towards passage and thus your failure to help protect the integrity and security of our elections is indefensible and inexcusable.”

The letter pointed out that Russia had undertaken efforts in 2016 “to break into the election systems administered by the states.”

The letter stated:

Thus, the very tallying of votes and the final results of our presidential and congressional elections may now be vulnerable to potential manipulation by Russia or other foreign adversaries.

These risks are all the more dangerous because many states lack effective security protection for their antiquated voting systems. Yet, this Congress has not provided funds to the states to upgrade the security of their election systems

The letter listed bipartisan bills pending in the House to address the Russian intervention in our elections.

They include a bill introduced by Reps. Kilmer (D-WA) and Coffman (R-CO) to inform the American people about Internet ads being run by foreign interests (H.R. 4077); a bill introduced by Reps. Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) and Schneider (D-IL) to provide stiff new penalties for foreign interference in our elections (H.R.4884); and a bill introduced by Reps. Meadows (R-SC) and Langevin (R-RI) to help states protect the integrity of federal elections and provide for grants for security improvements (H.R.3751.

The letter concluded:

As Speaker, you took an oath of office “to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic.” We call on you to fulfill your oath and, as Speaker, to promptly take steps to help prevent Russia or any other foreign interest from intervening in our future elections.

Find the full list of signers below or here:

American Oversight

Coalition to Preserve, Protect and Defend

Common Cause

CREW

Demand Progress Action

Democracy 21

Free Speech for People

Justin Hendrix

Kathleen Clark

Norman Eisen, former chief White House ethics lawyer, 2009-2011

People For the American Way

Public Citizen

Revolving Door Project

Richard Painter, former chief White House ethics lawyer, 2005-2007