Troubles at the Election Assistance Commission could undermine the effort to safeguard the 2020 presidential contest from foreign meddling.
A tiny federal agency that plays a crucial role in assisting the nation’s local election supervisors is gripped by a leadership crisis that has sparked concerns that it is unprepared to play its role in protecting the 2020 presidential race from foreign interference.
Brian Newby, the executive director of the Election Assistance Commission, has blocked important work on election security, micromanaged employees’ interactions with partners outside the agency and routinely ignored staff questions, according to former election officials, former federal employees and others who regularly work with the agency.
In doing so, Newby has not only frustrated his own employees and helped create a staff exodus — nine EAC office directors have left since Newby arrived — but also angered cybersecurity experts, election integrityactivists and state and local officials. His reputation in the elections community conjures up “the eye-roll emoji,” said one former election official. “Everybody kind of puts up with him.”