CHICAGO -- The candidates for Illinois 6th Congressional District traded barbs over election security funding and Russian interference Friday.
It was an early fight in what is a highly contested congressional seat.
The challenger Democrat Sean Casten struck first.
“Reading in the newspaper that Microsoft says there’s already been spear phishing attacks on 3 candidates for Congress this year,” he said. “I have no idea if that was me. What I do know is that my representative is doing nothing to make sure that we protect that system so that everybody in this room and all the voters not just in this district but in the country are protected.”
Casten was joined by Senator Dick Durbin who said, “This congressman in this district was penny wise and pound foolish.”
But back in March, Representative Peter Roskam voted for $380 million in election assistance grants Congress approved for the states.
“This is a stunt,” he said. “It is gimmickry and what we saw in my opponent’s criticism earlier and how he dragged Senator Durbin into this amazes me.”
With states saying they need more help hardening election systems, Democrats introduced an amendment to authorize another $380 million for the next fiscal year. Roskam voted no.
“I’d submit to you how much is too much to spend on protecting Democracy?” Casten said.
“To say that the money has not been allocated or there has been no effort to harden this tells me one thing Sean Casten is not serious about these solutions,” Roskam said.
Roskam said he takes election interference seriously but he wants states to use existing funds to protect systems.
“The money has not all been spent. It is irresponsible to come back and say we’ll let’s spend another $383 million if we don’t know what the assessment is,” he said.
The candidates are ready to engage. This was a fight over Roskam voting for something this fiscal year but not jumping the gun and voted for it again once Democrats asked for it.