By ADRIAN MOJICA, WZTV
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WZTV) - Tennessee Rep. Mike Stewart, D-Nashville, is calling on the state attorney general to open an investigation into the Tennessee Republican Party and its alleged lack of action regarding a Twitter account operated by Russians.
The @TEN_GOP account is among those used by 13 Russian nationals charged in an indictment issued by special counsel Robert Mueller. Mueller is leading the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
The indictment claims defendants and their co-conspirators created the Twitter account "Tennessee GOP" which used the handle @TEN_GOP. That account got up to 100,000 followers.
Stewart is questioning why the account -- which started in November 2015 -- was not reported or investigated by the Tennessee GOP despite allegedly being aware of the fake account. Stewart says the fake account was not reported by the real Tennessee GOP until Sept. 17, 2016.
In a statement, Stewart asks, "Why did they allow a fake Russian account with thousands of followers to represent the voice of Tennessee Republicans for months without taking any action?”
“Equally troubling is the fact that the Tennessee Republicans apparently did nothing meaningfully to warn the public that their name and reputation were being used to give legitimacy to a fake site systematically promoting racism, religious hatred and lies. The public needs to understand the full story, with a full review of all internal communications, to determine why the Tennessee GOP chose not to address this issue in a proactive, timely manner ... We need to make sure that in the future official Tennessee political organizations do not permit their names and reputations to be employed by foreign operatives as part of misinformation and espionage operations directed against our nation. That means conducting a full and detailed investigation to determine what went wrong in this case.”