Democrats in Alabama created a deceptive online campaign in 2017 meant to help defeat Republican Senate candidate Roy MooreRoy Stewart MooreSessions goes after Tuberville’s coaching record in challenging him to debate The 10 Senate seats most likely to flip Sessions fires back at Trump over recusal: ‘I did my duty & you’re damn fortunate I did” MORE in a special election, The New York Times reported Monday.
The “Dry Alabama” campaign reportedly featured a Facebook page and a Twitter account suggesting that Moore supported a statewide ban on alcohol.
The campaign is the second revelation of a disinformation campaign used by Democrats in the special election, according to the Times. The newspaper reported last month that New Knowledge, a cybersecurity research firm, used social media posts to spread disinformation in the race.
Both campaigns were reportedly modeled after the disinformation campaign carried out by Russia on social media ahead of the 2016 presidential election, a campaign that aimed to help then-candidate Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote Warren, Democrats urge Trump to back down from veto threat over changing Confederate-named bases Esper orders ‘After Action Review’ of National Guard’s role in protests MORE defeat Democratic nominee Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhite House accuses Biden of pushing ‘conspiracy theories’ with Trump election claim Biden courts younger voters — who have been a weakness Trayvon Martin’s mother Sybrina Fulton qualifies to run for county commissioner in Florida MORE.
Each of the disinformation campaigns in Alabama received $100,000 from Investing in Us, a group that supports progressive political causes, according to the Times.
Matt Osborne, a progressive activist who worked on the “Dry Alabama” campaign, told the newspaper that Democrats had no choice but to use disinformation if they wanted to level the playing field with Republicans.
“If you don’t do it, you’re fighting with one hand tied behind your back,” Osborne said. “You have a moral imperative to do this — to do whatever it takes.”
Moore lost the special election to Democrat Doug Jones, who is serving the remainder of the term that ends in 2021. The special election was triggered after former Sen. Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsMcCabe, Rosenstein spar over Russia probe Rosenstein takes fire from Republicans in heated testimony Rosenstein defends Mueller appointment, role on surveillance warrants MORE (R-Ala.) left his post to serve as attorney general.
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Jones last month condemned the first disinformation campaign that was revealed by the Times and called for an investigation.