Commentary

Editorial: Tillis must come clean about foreign involvement in his campaign

Sen. Thom Tillis

Dallas Woodhouse

There’s a fine editorial in this morning’s Greensboro News & Record entitled “Senator Tillis did one really good thing but needs to do one more.” In it, the N&R acknowledges that Tillis is to be commended for co-sponsoring bipartisan legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller from any efforts by Donald Trump to fire him. It would be better if he actually got the legislation moving, but it’s still good that he at least lent his name to it.

As the editorial also goes on to point out, however, the action to protect Mueller doesn’t insulate Tillis from the necessity that he come clean with respect to his campaign’s actions in 2014 in employing a foreign firm (Cambridge Analytica) with Russian connections. As the editorial points out, this fact was highlighted by Tillis’ hypocritical posturing in questioning Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg this week:

“In 2014 N.C. GOP Chairman Dallas Woodhouse hired Cambridge Analytica to help stimulate voters to support Tillis in his race against incumbent Democrat Kay Hagan of Greensboro, whom he beat in a mild upset. Until last month, when its connection to Facebook was uncovered, Cambridge Analytica’s support for Tillis was either obfuscated or overlooked.

The firm has been accused of collecting and employing the data illegally and for deploying foreign nationals to work on various campaigns, which violates election law….

Tillis has said very little about his relationship to the firm. He told the Post that it would be ‘deeply disturbing’ if his campaign was misled by a vendor. Woodhouse disclosed a $150,000 payment for ‘get-out-the-vote efforts.’ ‘No foreign workers worked for us,’ he told the Post.

But a few days later, WRAL.com quoted Cambridge Analytica whistleblower Christopher Wylie as saying the firm had ‘three or four’ full-time staffers, none of them U.S. citizens, in the state for the successful 2014 effort to elect U.S. Sen. Thom Tillis.’ New questions, still fewer answers. Every written statement from Tillis focuses on the possibility of “vendor problems.”

Tillis and Woodhouse should bring forward all records associated with the firm’s work on that campaign. What details were included in contracts and billing documents? Who were those employees who worked in North Carolina? What did they do? Bad memories and ‘vendor problems’ aren’t acceptable.

The rule of law has taken lots of bullets from Washington these past 16 months. Some of the wounds have been serious, and the damage is a long way from being contained. Tillis is admirable on one hand in its defense but to sit on a panel inquiring about a relationship for which his campaign paid and benefited is duplicitous.

Why not stand in front of the people who elected you, Sen. Tillis, and provide the sort of clear accounting you demanded from Zuckerberg?”

Click here to read the entire editorial.

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