WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The head of a federal agency who has helped U.S. states protect election systems from possible cyber attacks by Russia or others is being removed from his post by Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House.
Matthew Masterson, currently chairman of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission and a former Ohio state official, has been passed over for a second four-year term as one of the agency’s four commissioners, according to sources familiar with the matter.
It is up the House speaker to recommend a nominee for the commissioner post that Masterson currently holds, with the president then making a formal nomination.
Masterson has been a popular figure among state election officials, many of whom have praised his expertise and leadership on cyber security issues and expressed chagrin at his pending departure. The agency was created by Congress in 2002 to assist states in complying with federal election standards.
The action raises fresh questions over the degree to which Republican President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans who control Congress are taking steps to protect the security of American elections, and some state officials have accused them of doing too little to address the threat.
U.S. voters in November will go to the polls in midterm elections, which American intelligence officials have warned could be targeted by Russia or others seeking to disrupt the process.
I don’t know anything about this Masterson guy, but if he is one of the few government officials ACTUALLY worried about election hacking, then getting rid of him seems like a bad move. Unless he is bad at his job, and I’m not sure I trust Ryan or Trump to make that assessment.
Here’s the real concern: the other Republican appointee on the EAC, Christy McCormick, could be tapped as the next chair. At a public EAC meeting in April 2017, she expressed skepticism about the urgency of election security. She also attacked DHS for designating elections as critical infrastructure.