“Federalist 68”, likely penned by Alexander Hamilton, describes the corruption that comes from “the desire in foreign powers to gain an improper ascendant in our councils” as one of the “most deadly adversaries of republican government.” James Madison cited the need for an emoluments clause in our Constitution to prevent a bribe given to a governmental official by a foreign agent.
We have a long history of having to address corruption and fear of foreign influence in our elections.
In 1938, Congress passed the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which was our response to the large number of German propaganda agents in the U.S. This law required foreign agents to disclose their sources for “informational” material. The fear was that foreign agents would introduce propaganda and the public would not know the source. In the 1960s, FARA was amended to prohibit financial contributions from foreign nationals in U.S. elections.
In 1968, Republican presidential candidate Richard Nixon’s secret meetings with South Vietnam’s leader about the Vietnam War Peace process violated the law, as his negotiations with the South Vietnamese were as a private citizen.
Subsequently, South Vietnam withdrew from the peace negotiations and the Democratic Presidential candidate Hubert Humphrey lost the election partly for the failure of the Dems to broker a peace treaty.
Republican “Tricky Dick” Nixon was only getting started with his lawless terms in office. Do you remember the Watergate investigation?
In the words of Alexander Hamilton, the nation must always be on guard that “every practicable obstacle should be opposed to cabal, intrigue, and corruption.”
In the 2016 presidential election, Russia cyber attacked the United States with a sophisticated expansive and expensive military intelligence operation.
The subsequent 2019 Robert Mueller investigation report established beyond a reasonable doubt that Russia invaded the 2016 presidential election to disrupt our democracy, harm presidential candidate Hillary Clinton and help candidate Donald Trump.
Perhaps the most troubling part of this investigation is the magnitude of the Russian hack. Both Mueller and the Senate Intelligence Report revealed that the Russian hack job penetrated ALL 50 states’ election infrastructure.
Additionally, Robert Mueller warned that “many more countries are developing the capability to replicate what the Russians have done” – China, Iran, North Korea and Saudi Arabia.
“The ongoing threats to elections demand renewed attention to vulnerabilities to the over 8,000 voting jurisdictions including aging voting equipment, a lack of paper record of votes, and insecure voter registration databases.” (Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Report)
So, you would think that our federal, state, and local governments would be working night and day to secure our most precious tool of democracy – our VOTE.
Without this effort, we can surely NOT have free and fair elections.
Again, we have ONE man standing in the way of election reform to safeguard our voting process: Mitch McConnell, who has been labeled “Moscow Mitch” in my April 24 column, ‘The Russians are Coming’.
In mid-2016, “Moscow Mitch,” Majority leader of the Senate, refused to sound a bipartisan alarm to the American people that Russia had hacked into our election infrastructure.
Now, after Republican appointed Intelligence chiefs have sounded a “three-alarm fire,” and at least eight bills introduced by Senate Democrats to address the Mueller Report and their bipartisan Senate Intelligence report, Republicans have been instructed by “Moscow Mitch” to block each bill with the Senate rule of “the lone objection.”
The Democratic House has passed multiple bills that address election security and funding these recommended safeguards. Now the Senate needs to take them up and vote on them. Under Article I of the U.S. Constitution, that is their job!
The real question for Kentuckians should be that our senior senator is blocking all attempts to safeguard our democracy. Presumably, he must think that whatever Russia and other foreign influencers exert over U.S. elections will benefit him.
We have already seen “Moscow Mitch” collaborate to have sanctions removed from the Russian Aluminum oligarch Oleg Deripaska to finance an aluminum factory in Ashland, Kentucky to help his re-election campaign for 2020.
What about paper back-up ballots? Replace old voting machines? Get “dark” money out of elections?
“Moscow Mitch” opposes any federal attempt to safeguard our elections!
Case closed, Mitch?
Marshall Ward is a Murray resident who is a member of the Democratic Party. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.