Alabama attorney general asks feds to investigate if 2017 election was tainted by misleading social media campaign
Alabama Senate candidates Roy Moore (left) and Doug Jones (right). Images via screenshots and Wikimedia Commons.

Alabama’s attorney general asked federal elections officials on Monday to investigate allegations that the 2017 U.S. Senate election that Republican Roy Moore lost to Democrat Doug Jones was tainted by use of a misleading social media campaign.

Attorney General Steve Marshall has said he was concerned over tactics used in the election. Jones, a former federal prosecutor, became the first Democrat in a quarter-century to win a U.S. Senate race in the state when he upset Moore by a narrow margin to win the seat formerly held by Republican Jeff Sessions.

The New York Times reported on Monday that Democratic operatives had sought to undermine Moore by creating a Facebook page claiming that his supporters wanted to ban alcohol in the state.

The newspaper has previously reported that Democrats created a separate “false flag” Facebook page that portrayed Moore as supported by Russian bot accounts.

“The Attorney General’s Office has evaluated reports of possible deception in the Alabama U.S. Senate race and has determined the matter to be under the exclusive jurisdiction of the U.S. Federal Election Commission,” Mike Lewis, a spokesman for the Republican attorney general, told Reuters on Monday.

“Accordingly, the Attorney General has requested that FEC officials investigate the matter to determine if any federal laws were violated,” Lewis said.

Moore, whose campaign was marred by allegations that he sexually assaulted or pursued teenage girls while in his 30s, refused to concede the election to Jones and filed an unsuccessful legal challenge to the results, claiming voter fraud.

Moore, 71, a Christian conservative and former state chief justice, has denied any sexual misconduct or wrongdoing and Reuters has not been able to independently verify the allegations.

Facebook Inc has faced criticism in the past two years for its self-admitted sluggishness in developing tools to curb the spread of misinformation on the social networking site.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 election to help Republican Donald Trump. Moscow denies meddling in the election.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb in Los Angeles; Editing by Peter Cooney