Common Cause Urges Oversight Hearings Over DHS Move to Shift Cybersecurity Staff to Southern Border

Statement of Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn

Today, Common Cause called for immediate oversight hearings on reports that the Trump Administration is shifting Department of Homeland Security (DHS) staff from its Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency to the border with Mexico. In letters to the House Committee on Homeland Security and the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Common Cause urged Congress to ensure that DHS and all government agencies continue to devote necessary staff and resources to protect our election infrastructure in the wake of well-documented and continuing attacks on our election infrastructure by Russia and other hostile foreign nations.

“President Trump’s foolhardy obsession with an unnecessary and expensive Southern border wall is reportedly spilling over to jeopardize the security and integrity of our elections and Congress must put a stop to it,” said Common Cause President Karen Hobert Flynn. “Whether the President chooses to admit it or not, U.S. intelligence agencies are unanimous in their conclusions that Russia waged a broad and sophisticated attack on our election infrastructure in order to help elect Donald Trump to the presidency. Those attacks have continued unabated and shifting resources from the agencies responsible for checking them is dangerous and staggeringly irresponsible.”

Investigators have clearly documented the widespread 2016 attacks by Russian intelligence agencies and their affiliated operatives targeting at least 21 state election systems. It appears that those attacks resulted in successful breaches of at least seven of those systems. State and local systems remain extremely vulnerable to continued election manipulation.

The work of DHS, the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) and other agencies, is vital to support the efforts by states and municipalities to address ongoing cybersecurity threats. That work is ongoing and those agencies are in no position to divert staff at a time when they require additional personnel and resources to address the very serious and ongoing threats to the integrity of our elections.

In February, DHS Inspector General John V. Kelly issued a damning report concluding that “despite Federal requirements, DHS has not completed the plans and strategies critical to identifying emerging threats and mitigation activities, and establishing metrics to measure progress in securing the election infrastructure.” The report makes very clear that DHS requires more resources to complete its work to safeguard our election infrastructure, and can ill afford to have resources diverted from the mission.

“Our government must make every effort to secure elections now and in the future against any and all threats from hostile foreign nations to ensure our elections are decided by the people and not by hackers,” said Susannah Goodman, Common Director of Election Security. “That effort requires more resources, not fewer. These vital federal agencies must continue their work to combat these attacks.  Congress must ensure that they have the funding necessary to safeguard our elections against a significant and evolving threat.”

To read the letters, click here.