LinkedIn’s billionaire co-founder Reid Hoffman apologized Wednesday for funding a group that’s been linked to a misinformation campaign against Republican candidate Roy Moore in the 2017 Alabama Senate runoff election.
During Mr. Moore’s failed Senate bid against now-Sen. Doug Jones, Mr. Hoffman provided funding for American Engagement Technologies, a firm led by former Obama administration official Mikey Dickerson that was part of an effort to falsely portray Mr. Moore’s campaign as being supported by the Russian government, The New York Times reported last week.
Mr. Hoffman denied knowing the group’s motives in a Medium post on Wednesday, saying he was “embarrassed” he didn’t vet the group more thoroughly.
“The Times articles imply that I had knowledge of it and that I endorsed its tactics. Let me be absolutely clear: I do not,” he wrote. “I categorically disavow the use of misinformation to sway an election. In fact, I have deliberately funded multiple organizations trying to re-establish civic, truth-focused discourse in the US. I would not have knowingly funded a project planning to use such tactics, and would have refused to invest in any organization that I knew might conduct such a project.”
Mr. Hoffman insisted that he wants Democrats to win elections based on their merits and not by the manipulation of facts.
“That I had no knowledge of the actions the Times’ describes does not absolve me of my ethical responsibility to exercise adequate diligence in monitoring my investments,” he wrote. “Senator Doug Jones has called for an inquiry into this alleged operation which, from reading the Times, I agree is a good idea. We cannot permit dishonest campaign tactics to go unchecked in our democracy — no matter which side they purportedly help.”
Mr. Jones said he’s “outraged” by The Times’ findings and wants a federal investigation into the project.
“I’d like to see the Federal Election Commission and the Justice Department look at this to see if there were any laws being violated and, if there were, prosecute those responsible,” he told Fox News. “These authorities need to use this example right now to start setting the course for the future to let people know that this is not acceptable in the United States of America.”