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Thread: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

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    How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws



    Washington (CNN) - Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

    The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.

    The practice is the latest effort in the quest by political operatives to exploit the murky world of campaign finance laws at a time when limits on spending in politics are eroding and regulators are being defanged.

    The law says that outside groups, such as super PACs and non-profits, can spend freely on political causes as long as they don't coordinate their plans with campaigns. Sharing costly internal polls in private, for instance, could signal to the campaign committees where to focus precious time and resources.

    The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable "soft money" to fund campaigns.

    A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.

    Posting the information on Twitter, which is technically public, could provide a convenient loophole to the law — or could run afoul of it.

    "It's a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization focused on campaign finance issues. "It might not be legal. It's a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility."

    At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.

    Accounts deleted

    The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions.
    How the GOP used Twitter to stretch election laws - CNN.com


    I guess voter fraud is a real issue. If this actually goes anywhere this could be good ammo for us Dems to use in 2016. If it goes nowhere expect the Dems to use this same strategy. To me deleting the accounts is admission of guilt. If the GOP didn't do anything wrong then those accounts would still be active.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager1 View Post
    "It's a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization focused on campaign finance issues. "It might not be legal. It's a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility."
    All the more evidence that our election laws are very out of date.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager1 View Post


    Washington (CNN) - Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

    The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.

    The practice is the latest effort in the quest by political operatives to exploit the murky world of campaign finance laws at a time when limits on spending in politics are eroding and regulators are being defanged.

    The law says that outside groups, such as super PACs and non-profits, can spend freely on political causes as long as they don't coordinate their plans with campaigns. Sharing costly internal polls in private, for instance, could signal to the campaign committees where to focus precious time and resources.

    The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable "soft money" to fund campaigns.

    A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.

    Posting the information on Twitter, which is technically public, could provide a convenient loophole to the law — or could run afoul of it.

    "It's a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization focused on campaign finance issues. "It might not be legal. It's a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility."

    At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.

    Accounts deleted

    The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions.
    How the GOP used Twitter to stretch election laws - CNN.com
    .
    To me deleting the accounts is admission of guilt. If the GOP didn't do anything wrong then those accounts would still be active.
    Kinda like IRS hard drives crashing?

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    1. I thought voter fraud doesn't exist

    2. Even if you accept it does exist, this isn't "voter fraud"...it's, at best, campaign finance violations. Different things. It helps if your outrage actually makes sense.

    3. This is still VERY speculative at this point as to legitimate proof of coordination. We had people screaming to high heavens about "due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" on this forum recently with things like Bowe Bergdahl. Right now we have an anonymous source making claims to CNN...hardly rock solid evidence of law breaking.

    4. The FEC should absolutely investigate this. If there's instances where people violated the law they should be prosecuted. If it's found they didn't violate the law on a technicality, I'd suggest it's definitely an unethical move but sadly "unethical" and "politics" go hand in hand (see the most recent uproar over the machavellian means of passaging the ACA)

    5. I don't think this will really have much impact on 2016 as I don't think it's something that will resonate much with the average toss up voter, nor significantly fire up the Democratic base or depress the Republican base.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanSlug View Post
    All the more evidence that our election laws are very out of date.
    Um, no it is saying that our free speech laws must be ignored in order to "update" our election laws. Making saying "vote for Joe Demorat" illegal but allow saying "vote for what Joe Demorat wants" as perfectly legal makes no sense at all. There is no way to allow free speech but not political free speech.
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
    Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by ttwtt78640 View Post
    Um, no it is saying that our free speech laws must be ignored in order to "update" our election laws. Making saying "vote for Joe Demorat" illegal but allow saying "vote for what Joe Demorat wants" as perfectly legal makes no sense at all. There is no way to allow free speech but not political free speech.
    Not necessarily. If one can manipulate the election process to spread information on results before poll closing / or campaign coordination in a manner described by the OP (and I still have some questions on this really being the case) then we have to address it somehow if this is proven to be a problem. To suggest otherwise is to engage in ideological fantasy.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by OrphanSlug View Post
    Not necessarily. If one can manipulate the election process to spread information on results before poll closing / or campaign coordination in a manner described by the OP (and I still have some questions on this really being the case) then we have to address it somehow if this is proven to be a problem. To suggest otherwise is to engage in ideological fantasy.
    These were not election results they were poll results. Many sources released poll results including the MSM.
    “The reasonable man adapts himself to the world: the unreasonable one persists to adapt the world to himself.
    Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” ― George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by Zyphlin View Post
    1. I thought voter fraud doesn't exist

    2. Even if you accept it does exist, this isn't "voter fraud"...it's, at best, campaign finance violations. Different things. It helps if your outrage actually makes sense.

    3. This is still VERY speculative at this point as to legitimate proof of coordination. We had people screaming to high heavens about "due process" and "innocent until proven guilty" on this forum recently with things like Bowe Bergdahl. Right now we have an anonymous source making claims to CNN...hardly rock solid evidence of law breaking.

    4. The FEC should absolutely investigate this. If there's instances where people violated the law they should be prosecuted. If it's found they didn't violate the law on a technicality, I'd suggest it's definitely an unethical move but sadly "unethical" and "politics" go hand in hand (see the most recent uproar over the machavellian means of passaging the ACA)

    5. I don't think this will really have much impact on 2016 as I don't think it's something that will resonate much with the average toss up voter, nor significantly fire up the Democratic base or depress the Republican base.

    Points 1&2: Just shows GOPers have no problem breaking the rules when it suits them.
    Point 3: Then why delete the accounts?
    Point 4: True.
    Point 5: Probably true.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager1 View Post
    Points 1&2: Just shows GOPers have no problem breaking the rules when it suits them.
    How does you claiming this is "voter fraud" when it would cleraly be a "campaign finance" issue show that the GOP "as no problem breaking rules when it suits them"?

    You saying something factually incorrect somehow shows that? How?

    Point 3: Then why delete the accounts?
    Possibly to hide evidence. Possibly because they weren't using them any longer. Possibly because it was a rogue individual realizing he was getting attention. Who knows? Does it look shady? Absolutely! Does it "prove guilt"? No more than a lot of the things coming out in the Bergdahl case. Deleting the twitter accounts doesn't change that all we really have as far as hard evidence right now is the reports of anonymous source, that's it. I've been pretty consistent on this forum in the vast majority of these kind of "stories" with a stance of "I'll make a decision once we actually have some more concrete evidence, rather than making a knee jerk reaction". That's generally been my take, from mass murders to stupid backwards B headed ladies to various scandals...its the same here. There's very little concrete to go off of at the moment.

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    Re: How the GOP used Twitter to stretch laws

    Quote Originally Posted by voyager1 View Post


    Washington (CNN) - Republicans and outside groups used anonymous Twitter accounts to share internal polling data ahead of the midterm elections, CNN has learned, a practice that raises questions about whether they violated campaign finance laws that prohibit coordination.

    The Twitter accounts were hidden in plain sight. The profiles were publicly available but meaningless without knowledge of how to find them and decode the information, according to a source with knowledge of the activities.

    The practice is the latest effort in the quest by political operatives to exploit the murky world of campaign finance laws at a time when limits on spending in politics are eroding and regulators are being defanged.

    The law says that outside groups, such as super PACs and non-profits, can spend freely on political causes as long as they don't coordinate their plans with campaigns. Sharing costly internal polls in private, for instance, could signal to the campaign committees where to focus precious time and resources.

    The groups behind the operation had a sense of humor about what they were doing. One Twitter account was named after Bruno Gianelli, a fictional character in The West Wing who pressed his colleagues to use ethically questionable "soft money" to fund campaigns.

    A typical tweet read: "CA-40/43-44/49-44/44-50/36-44/49-10/16/14-52-->49/476-10s." The source said posts like that -- which would look like gibberish to most people -- represented polling data for various House races.

    Posting the information on Twitter, which is technically public, could provide a convenient loophole to the law — or could run afoul of it.

    "It's a line that has not been defined. This is really on the cutting edge," said Paul S. Ryan, senior counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan organization focused on campaign finance issues. "It might not be legal. It's a cutting edge practice that, to my knowledge, the Federal Election Commission has never before addressed to explicitly determine its legality or permissibility."

    At least two outside groups and a Republican campaign committee had access to the information posted to the accounts, according to the source. They include American Crossroads, the super PAC founded by Karl Rove; American Action Network, a nonprofit advocacy group, and the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is the campaign arm for the House GOP.

    Accounts deleted

    The accounts that CNN reviewed were active in the months ahead of this month's election, which gave Republicans their largest majority in the House since World War II and control of the Senate. They were live until Nov. 3 but deleted minutes after CNN contacted the NRCC with questions.
    How the GOP used Twitter to stretch election laws - CNN.com


    I guess voter fraud is a real issue. If this actually goes anywhere this could be good ammo for us Dems to use in 2016. If it goes nowhere expect the Dems to use this same strategy. To me deleting the accounts is admission of guilt. If the GOP didn't do anything wrong then those accounts would still be active.
    First, there would have to be proof that these accounts exceeded the limitations on coordinated communications, and/or weren't properly reported.
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    At least Bill saved his transgressions for grown women. Not suggesting what he did was OK. But he didn't chase 14 year olds.

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