Rep. Pallone Presses Edge on Possible Russian Kavanaugh Meddling

The ranking member of the House Energy & Commerce Committee wants some answers from social media giants after reports of Russian-linked efforts to affect the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

In a letter to the CEOs of Google parent Alphabet, Facebook and Google, Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.) pointed to a report in The Washington Post about a Russian-linked Facebook account attempting to exploit the sexual assault allegations against Kavanaugh (“Confirm Judge Kavanaugh (Enough is enough)”) had previously focused on boycotting Nike and driving Republican voters to the polls.

He also pointed out that the German Marshall Fund’s project that tracks Russian influence said "Kavanaugh, Trump, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Dr. Christine Blasey Ford" were the top four issues discussed on Russian-linked accounts.

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By no later than Oct. 18, Pallone wants answers to the following questions.

1. "Have your companies discovered any foreign links to any anomalous behavior related to activities focusing on Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Blasey Ford, Deborah Ramirez or Julie Swetnick, including the practice of co-opting unrelated social media groups?"

2. "Are your companies working with third-party researchers and firms to identify accounts or pages with foreign links focusing on Judge Kavanaugh or Dr. Blasey Ford, Ramirez or Swetnick?"

3. "Do your efforts to combat foreign influence include reviewing emerging divisive issues in American political and social life, such as the allegations of sexual assault against Judge Kavanaugh?"

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has called for a cloture vote Friday, which is a vote to end further debate and proceed to a floor vote on the nomination, which could happen as early as Saturday. Kavanaugh has already been confirmed by the Judiciary Committee on a party-line vote.

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.