Campaign Committee Chairmen Collaborating on Election Security

Concern about Russian interference makes allies out of traditional foes

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., issued a warning to Russian interests seeking to influence the election. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

The chairmen of the Senate Republican and Democratic campaign committees have spoken at length about election security and the potential for Russian active measures against the 2018 midterms.

“In terms of meddling with the election ... I’ve had long conversations with Chris Van Hollen about this. This is an unacceptable activity by the Russians — or anyone, for that matter — but we certainly want to do everything we can to protect the elections of integrity coming up in 2018,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman Cory Gardner of Colorado said. “This is not a partisan issue.”

Gardner, who has been calling for the Senate to consider his bill (S 2780) that would require a determination about designating Russia as a state sponsor of terror, is also a co-sponsor of legislation offered by Van Hollen, the Maryland Democrat who is the chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, and Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., designed to provide for new sanctions and other penalties if there’s further interference from Russia.

In a brief interview, Gardner said he had spoken about the development of new sanctions legislation with both Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Banking Chairman Michael D. Crapo, R-Idaho.

“I hope to see something move quickly,” Gardner said. “I know they’re very serious about it.”

Corker said he did not have a specific timeline, but he added that he was well aware of the need to act before the November election.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell reaffirmed Tuesday that those two committees have the lead on developing new Russia sanctions.

And the Kentucky Republican suggested the Senate was prepared to act.

“The Russians better quit messing around in our elections. I want to make that perfectly clear. The Russians better quit messing around in our elections,” McConnell told reporters.

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