Ohio Rep. Anthony Gonzalez part of bipartisan group in Congress looking at election security

Senate sends Russia sanctions to Trump's desk
Posted at 12:04 PM, Jul 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-02 12:04:04-04

CLEVELAND — Northeast Ohio Congressman Anthony Gonzalez didn't need the Mueller Report to point out to him how Russia was interfering in U.S. politics, all he needed was his car radio.

"I was driving into my office in D.C. and I heard a story about some racial profiling going on in the south and it was an awful story," Gonzalez said.

He no sooner began to ask himself how he might have missed this in the news when he got his answer.

"It goes to commercial and they say 'this is Sputnik radio,'" Gonzalez recalled. "Sputnik radio is an arm, a propaganda arm of the Russian government and they are able to just broadcast however they want in the U.S. right now."

"By the way, when I looked into the story the whole thing was false, it was complete garbage." Gonzalez said of the shocking story he heard. "It was just a pure propaganda piece that was passed on as real news."

Why Sputnik was even on his radar was because of "Task Force Sentry," a group made up of freshman Members of Congress who began meeting two months ago following the completion of the Mueller Report.

"Task Force Sentry came about as a result of some conversations that I had with one of my colleagues from Michigan, Rep. Elissa Slotkin," he said.

"What this was was us basically coming together and saying okay so the Mueller report's come out, there's a lot of talk on what to do and what not. What we said is let's focus on the things that we can all agree on and I think that falls neatly in line with fighting back against the Russian disinformation campaign. I mean if you read the first half of the report there's a lot of stuff in there that we can shore up that I think every American can say yeah we probably don't want that."

Radio stations among them.

"There are certain entities that are FARA (Foreign Agents Registration Act) designated which means they're a foreign agent. Sputnik and RT are two FARA-designated stations if you will, they're controlled and operated by the Russian government," Gonzalez said.

"So we got back and brought this up to our task force and one of the pieces of legislation was to say look if they want to do that they have to disclose so that people know this is the Russian government that's actually broadcasting on the United States' airwaves."

The fact that they're a bi-partisan group may be a surprise to some given the divisiveness that exists but Rep. Gonzalez said is not to him.

"If you talk to the newer members, I think the vast majority are folks who if you met them you might not be able to tell one way or the other where they are on the political spectrum, certainly if you see them on how we vote but in terms of what we work on and who we work with it's about helping our communities and moving the country forward," he said.