As the 2018 elections approach, California officials are taking steps to combat foreign interference, with or without the help of the federal government. California Secretary of State Alex Padilla has been critical in recent months of the federal government’s lackluster response to Russian efforts to influence U.S. elections, and Padilla renewed his criticism this week after a new report said the U.S. State Department has failed to spend money to combat foreign interference in our elections. The department has spent none of the $120 million allocated since late 2016 for combating foreign attempts to interfere in U.S. elections and sow distrust through social media, The New York Times reported Sunday. Padilla said the delay is another example of the passive approach President Donald Trump has taken in fighting suspected Russian efforts to attack state election systems.
“Time and time again President Trump has refused to take the threat of Russian activity seriously,” Padilla said in a statement. “Now, inaction by the U.S. State Department is squandering bipartisan funding to combat Russian misinformation campaigns and attempts to meddle in our democracy.”
To asses the threat to California’s elections systems, the Assembly and Senate elections committees will hold a joint informational hearing on cybersecurity at 9 a.m. in Room 444 of the Capitol. The hearing will discuss steps California officials have taken and can take to shield state voting systems from foreign attacks.
The state will not wait for the federal government to help, Padilla said.