The head of a federal commission who has helped U.S. states protect election systems from possible cyber attacks by Russia or others is being replaced at the behest of Republican House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan and the White House. Matthew Masterson, a member of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission who currently serves as its chairman, has been passed over for a second four-year term as one of the agency’s four commissioners. “The appointment expired in December and we are going in a different direction for our nomination. We nominate people for a variety of positions and generally speaking choose our own folks,” AshLee Strong, a spokeswoman for Ryan, said by email on Thursday. Strong rejected the notion that Masterson was being removed or shoved aside, characterizing the change as routine.
The commissioner post that Masterson, a former Ohio state official, currently holds is picked by the House speaker and formally nominated by the president. The three other commissioners are recommended by other congressional leaders.
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.