Jones asks federal officials to investigate misinformation campaign tactics in Alabama Senate race

Jones asks federal officials to investigate misinformation campaign tactics in Alabama Senate race
© Greg Nash

Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) has requested that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) investigate disinformation tactics that were used to benefit him during a special Senate election in 2017.

The formal inquiry was made to the FEC on Wednesday, according to a letter obtained by The Hill.

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In a letter to the FEC, Jones asked for a "thorough investigation" and suggested that the "maximum penalties allowed" be imposed if any wrongdoing is discovered, the newspaper reported.

“It is imperative to send a clear message that these disinformation tactics will not be tolerated and will be punished to the fullest extent of the law,” Jones wrote.

“Such deceptive tactics have no place in American politics and must be repudiated by those involved in our political system,” Jones added, according to the Times.

His inquiry comes after The New York Times reported last month that New Knowledge, a cybersecurity research firm, used social media posts to spread disinformation in the race.

After the publication of the Times report, Jones called for an FEC investigation into the tactics, which were modeled after Russia's disinformation campaigns in the 2016 presidential election.

“I’d like to see the [Federal Election Commission] and the Justice Department look at this and see if any laws are being violated or were violated. And if there were, do it. Go after them," Jones told Politico at the time, though he didn't formally ask for an investigation.

A second incident of a disinformation campaign during the race was revealed this week by the Times. The newspaper reported that a "Dry Alabama" campaign featured a Facebook page and a Twitter account suggesting that Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore supported a statewide alcohol ban.

Jones defeated Moore in the election, which was triggered after former Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) left his post to serve as attorney general. Jones is now serving the remainder of the term that ends in 2021.

— Updated 10:31 a.m.