The State Department’s Rewards for Justice office on Wednesday said it would award up to $10 million for information that leads to individuals from across the globe who tampered with or otherwise interfered in U.S. elections.
“The reward offer seeks information leading to the identification or location of any foreign person or entity who knowingly engaged or is engaging in foreign election interference,” the department’s release read in part.
They release said they also want any information that leads to the “prevention, frustration, or favorable resolution of an act of foreign election interference,” including the dismantling of organizations involved.
The State Department is looking for tips regarding vote tampering, database intrusions, bot farms or disinformation campaigns and any other type of “malicious cyber activity.”
Foreign adversaries have long looked to interfere in American politics, according to investigations of past elections and indictments brought against alleged foreign agents. The U.S. has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of ordering influence operations to try to help Trump in the 2020 election. And a bipartisan Senate investigation of the 2016 election confirmed intelligence findings that Russia used cyber-espionage and information efforts to boost Trump and disparage his opponent, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
In April, U.S. intelligence officials posited Putin may use the Biden administration’s support for Ukraine as a pretext to order a new campaign to interfere in American politics.
At the time, agencies had so far not found any evidence that Putin authorized measures like the ones Russia is believed to have undertaken in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, according to several people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive findings.
But given Putin’s antipathy toward the West and his repeated denunciations of Ukraine, officials believe he may see the U.S. backing of Ukraine’s resistance as a direct affront to him, giving him further incentive to target another U.S. election, the people said. It is not yet clear which candidates Russia might try to promote or what methods it might use.
Law enforcement and intelligence agencies continuously investigate foreign influence efforts. The Justice Department last month charged five men with acting on behalf of China to harass Chinese dissidents in the U.S. and derail a little-known congressional candidate.
This week’s advisory from the State Department comes amid the 2022 midterm elections, the outcome of which will determine which party controls both the House and the Senate – and in which the former president has already proven to still hold much sway for Republican voters.
Individuals with information on potential foreign interference in U.S. elections can submit a tip on the State Department’s website.