Radical leftists disguised themselves as kooky Baptists and ran a social-media smear campaign against GOP Senate candidate Roy Moore, who lost a close race in Alabama to Democrat Doug Jones in 2017.
The goal, the New York Times reported today, was to falsely suggest Moore would ban alcohol in the Yellowhammer State, and drive moderate Republicans into the arms of the pro-abortion liberal Democrat.
In December, the Times uncovered a similar operation unknowingly funded by LinkedIn billionaire Reid Hoffman.
The upshot is, leftists adopted the very tactics they accused Russians of using to help elect Donald Trump.
The anti-booze message came through the “Dry Alabama” Facebook page, the Times reported, “illustrated with stark images of car wrecks and videos of families ruined by drink, had a blunt message: Alcohol is the devil’s work, and the state should ban it entirely.”
The Facebook page and its affiliated Twitter feed “appeared to be the work of Baptist teetotalers” who supported the conservative Moore.
But the group of Baptist teetotalers did not exist, the Times reported. It was the “stealth creation of progressive Democrats who were out to defeat Mr. Moore — the second such secret effort to be unmasked. In a political bank shot made in the last two weeks of the campaign, they thought associating Mr. Moore with calls for a statewide alcohol ban would hurt him with moderate, business-oriented Republicans and assist the Democrat, Doug Jones, who won the special election by a hair-thin margin.”
As well, the Times reported, the leftists are glad they adopted the tactic. “Matt Osborne, a veteran progressive activist who worked on the project, said he hoped that such deceptive tactics would someday be banned from American politics,” the Times reported. “But in the meantime, he said, he believes that Republicans are using such trickery and that Democrats cannot unilaterally give it up.”
Osborne told the Times that defeating Moore not only justified but also demanded the dirty pool. “If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back,” the dishonest leftist told the Times. “You have a moral imperative to do this — to do whatever it takes.”
Osborne told the Times, "The effort began in conversations with acquaintances from his years at the annual Netroots Nation progressive gatherings” and “zeroed in on tensions within the Republican Party over whether drinking should be permitted in Alabama, where the number of dry counties had dwindled.”
The leftists exploited the divide. “Business conservatives favor wet; culture-war conservatives favor dry,” he told the Times. “That gave us an idea.”
Last month, using an “internal report” on the first project, the Times disclosed a similar sophisticated tech effort to defeat Moore. “The secret project, carried out on Facebook and Twitter, was likely too small to have a significant effect on the race,” the Times reported. "But it was a sign that American political operatives of both parties have paid close attention to the Russian methods, which some fear may come to taint elections in the United States.”
The report said that leftists “experimented with many of the tactics now understood to have influenced the 2016 elections.”
As well, the report said, “We orchestrated an elaborate ‘false flag’ operation that planted the idea that the Moore campaign was amplified on social media by a Russian botnet.”
Even worse, leftist LinkedIn tycoon Hoffman didn’t know he was inadvertently funding the dirty campaign effort. He apologized for funding the underhanded tactics.
The Times reported that the two projects received $100,000 each that came through the same outfit, “Investing in Us, which finances political operations in support of progressive causes.”
Moore lose the race, the Times reported, by less than 22,000 votes of 1.3 million cast, just 0.17 percent. The question is whether the “progressive” disinformation effort pushed Jones over the top, particularly given the amount of money spent on the race: $51 million.
For both candidates, a lot of that money came not from Alabamians, but from out-of-state contributors, as CNN reported.
Jones raised more than twice as much out-of-state money, $3.7 million, as Moore, who pulled in just $1.6 million. A surge of that money for Jones hit the state in November.