KU News Service

Media advisory: Experts can comment on allegations of social media misuse in political campaigns

Tue, 11/18/2014

LAWRENCE — University of Kansas faculty members are available to speak with media about reports questioning the possibility of violation of campaign laws through use of social media. On Monday, CNN and other media outlets reported that the Republican party and outside groups set up Twitter accounts in a way that could potentially contradict laws against coordination.

In the months leading up to the midterm election, several Twitter accounts allegedly posted coded information as a way to share polling data, CNN reported. The practice has raised questions about whether the action violated campaign laws against coordination between parties and fundraising groups. The accounts have since been deleted, and the Federal Elections Commission has not stated whether the actions violate any laws.

Mark Johnson, lecturer in the William Allen White School of Journalism & Mass Communications, has taught election law in the School of Law and now teaches courses on election and campaign law in the journalism school, as well as classes on First Amendment law and a seminar on free speech. He holds a history degree from Yale University and a law degree from Harvard University, and he is a founder of the Kansas City office of Dentons US LLP, an international law firm that represents telecommunications companies, wireless carriers and cable companies.

Patrick Miller, assistant professor of political science, is available to speak about campaign finance and elections. Regarding the allegations, Miller said it's not surprising that campaigns might use Twitter to communicate with outside groups because there is typically no risk of anyone being caught having an off-the-record conversation with someone belonging to an outside group. He said the process crossed party lines.

To schedule an interview, contact Mike Krings at or 785-864-8860.

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