Congress

DCCC again asks NRCC to pledge not to use hacked materials

Bustos resending a letter first sent to Emmer six months ago

DCCC Chair Cheri Bustos is resending a pledge to her NRCC counterpart about not using hacked material. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is renewing a request to its Republican counterpart that both parties pledge not to use hacked materials in the 2020 campaign.

DCCC Chairwoman Cheri Bustos of Illinois first sent such a letter to National Republican Congressional Committee chairman Tom Emmer in April. Six months later, she’s resending the letter, following House passage — largely along party lines — of an election security bill this week.

“The urgency I conveyed in April has not dissipated. In fact, the importance of this issue has only grown,” Bustos wrote in the letter, which was obtained first by CQ Roll Call.

Democrats have made similar requests since initial reports of foreign hacking of the campaign committee in 2016, but the NRCC did not engage in 2016 and 2017, and talks between the two committees in 2018 broke down two months before Election Day.

“Now, with one year before our country’s next general election, it is clear that the President of the United States is actively soliciting interference from another foreign government in an attempt to undermine the rule of law and help himself politically,” Bustos wrote on Friday.

“While you and I may not be able to agree on the best way to address flaws in our health care system or strategies for putting Americans back to work, I believe the Committees we chair must work together and stand for the safety and security of our democracy over any partisan goals,” Bustos continued.

The pledge, which the DCCC has already signed, says it will not aid hackers or foreign actors “in any attempt to influence American elections,” will not seek out or use hacked information, will not support campaigns that do and will report to law enforcement any attempts from foreign governments to contact the committee.

The NRCC has previously questioned the DCCC’s intentions. Bustos “is not serious about an agreement on cyber-attacks because if she was, then she wouldn’t be sending out an endless barrage of juvenile press releases to the national press corps on the matter,” NRCC spokesman Chris Pack said in a statement to CQ Roll Call in June.

Pack said the NRCC was “actively working with outside experts and law enforcement to make sure we do not fall victim to another attack.”

All Republicans voted against a House bill this week that would require campaigns to report to the FBI any offers of assistance from foreign governments. Minnesota Rep. Collin C. Peterson, who’s likely facing a tough reelection, was the only Democrat to vote against it. The legislation is unlikely to go anywhere in the Senate — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has criticized it as a “go-nowhere messaging bill” that would infringe on free speech — and the White House has said President Donald Trump would veto it.

Bridget Bowman contributed to this report. 

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone.