Advocacy group launches campaign to pressure Senate Republicans to approve election security funding

Advocacy group launches campaign to pressure Senate Republicans to approve election security funding
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A progressive advocacy group plans to spend over $100,000 on a nationwide campaign to pressure Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Biden not ruling out Senate voting to impeach Trump: 'It will depend on what their constituency says' Congress hunts for path out of spending stalemate MORE (R-Ky.) and other Senate Republicans to pass a funding bill that includes $600 million for increased election security.

Stand Up America announced the campaign — which will involve buying digital ads, a billboard near McConnell’s Kentucky office and other organizing tools to urge Senate Republicans to approve election security funding — on Wednesday.

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The billboard will label McConnell “Moscow Mitch,” and urge Kentuckians to put pressure on him to allow a vote on an appropriations bill for the next fiscal year that includes $600 million in election security funds.

The campaign will involve the mobilization of over 2.4 million people nationwide and will run throughout September. 

It will also target 10 other top Republicans senators by texting constituents in those states to urge them to push for action on election security. 

The senators targeted by these text messages will include Sen. Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntCongress hunts for path out of spending stalemate GOP senators plan to tune out impeachment week Eleven GOP senators sign open letter backing Sessions's comeback bid MORE (R-Mo.), the chairman of the Senate Rules Committee with jurisdiction over election security, and Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (R-La.), the chairman of the Senate Appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the portion of the budget for 2020 that involves election security funds.  

Kennedy told The Hill in June that he is “very, very skeptical about the wisdom of including” $600 million in the budget for election security, an amount that was included in the House-passed fiscal 2020 financial services and general government bill. 

A spokesperson for McConnell did not respond to request for comment on the Stand Up America campaign. McConnell has strongly pushed back against the “Moscow Mitch” name, with McConnell saying on Tuesday that the nickname is “over-the-top” and an effort to “smear” him. 

Stand Up America’s Managing Director Christina Harvey noted in a statement that former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' MORE’s testimony before Congress in July “made it clear that the safety and security of our elections are still at risk.” Mueller testified that he expected foreign interference during the 2020 elections. 

“Protecting the integrity of our elections shouldn’t be a partisan issue—but Moscow Mitch refuses to defend our democracy and is blocking election security funding,” Harvey said. “This campaign will make sure McConnell hears directly from his own constituents and from Senate Republicans feeling the heat for putting party over country.”

Other aspects of the campaign will include running digital ads that target national audiences to educate the public on election security needs, encouraging Americans to visit the state offices of members of Congress to push for election security legislation, and launching a volunteer peer-to-peer texting campaign to reach out to constituents. 

Republicans have generally pushed back against election security-focused bills that include federal funds, citing concerns over federalizing elections, and pointing to states not having fully spent $380 million appropriated for election security by Congress in 2018. 

State officials have pleaded for more funding, most recently last month when two secretaries of state testified before the Election Assistance Commission that their states need more federal funds to implement election security upgrades.