By Jacob Ryan
The head of the Jefferson County Republican Party is defending Donald Trump’s claim that the media is “rigging” the election against the GOP nominee.
Trump maintains the media is in cahoots with Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign, suggesting a conspiracy that could distort the outcome of November’s presidential election.
“The election is absolutely being rigged by the dishonest and distorted media pushing Crooked Hillary,” Trump tweeted Sunday.
He’s offered no evidence to back up his claim, and the suggestion of a rigged election is drawing a sharp response from experts on electoral process.
Some prominent members of the Republican party are distancing themselves from Trump’s claims. In a statement, House Speaker Paul Ryan said “our democracy relies on confidence in election results.”
And Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul — who had no shortage of conflict with Trump during the Republican primary — said he had no evidence of rigged elections, according to a report from The Courier-Journal.
Meanwhile, Jim Stansbury, who chairs the Jefferson County Republican Party, said his views align with Trump’s. In an interview, he said the idea of a “rigged” election “has to do with a number of things,” among them media coverage of the Trump campaign.
That has been a common theme among Trump and his top surrogates, including his running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence. Trump’s most recent claims are in response to various media reports of women claiming he sexually assaulted them.
Stansbury also suggested moderators at the first two presidential debates were aligned with Clinton. They included NBC News anchor Lester Holt at the first debate and CNN’s Anderson Cooper and Martha Raddatz of ABC News at the second.
“It’s not fair for (Trump) to have to debate not only Hillary, but also the moderators. Why should he have to debate them, as well,” he said. “That, to me, feels a bit like rigging.”
The debate moderators are chosen by the nonprofit, nonpartisan Commission on Presidential Debates.
89.3 WFPL also requested comment from Metro Councilman Kevin Kramer, who heads the GOP caucus. He did not respond Monday.
Sticking With Trump
Stansbury, who endorsed the controversial Republican, said he’s still “all in for Trump” despite controversial video footage released earlier this month in which Trump brags about sexually assaulting women.
“I know guys, and I know the kind of talk people do,” he said.
Stansbury dismissed the recent allegations made by more than a dozen women claiming they were sexually assaulted by Trump.
“It appears to me it’s a tactic as opposed to something that’s real,” he said. “That’s why I ignore it and pay more attention to the policy.”
Trump’s policy proposals would, he said, tamp down illegal immigration and boost economic development. A Trump presidency would also likely lead to a more conservative U.S. Supreme Court, Stansbury said.
While he said it’s doubtful there will be a “rigging of the election, itself, of the voting process,” the notion of small-scale voter fraud is an element of concern for Stansbury, especially when votes are cast on paper ballots or recorded electronically.
“Punch cards are a problem,” he said. “I worry about hacking.”
Reports of voter fraud have been few and far between in the U.S., and never on a scale large enough to throw a presidential election.
Local Election Officials Confident
In a statement, Nore Ghibaudy, a spokesman for the Jefferson County Clerk’s office, said the staff is “actively monitoring for attempts by hackers to disrupt or influence local elections.”
“The Jefferson County Clerk’s Office election system software, and the servers on which the software runs, are not connected to the internet in any way and are never exposed to the internet,” the Ghibaudy said.
Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Grimes issued a statement on Twitter Monday evening denouncing Trump’s claim of a rigged election.
In it, she said “such claims discount the good work thousands of Kentucky citizens and hundreds of thousands of Americans do to ensure everyone has the chance to exercise their right to vote.”
“Claims that our elections are rigged strike at the very heart of democracy,” Grimes said.