PROVIDENCE — During the Rhode Island Report podcast on Oct. 3, Republican congressional candidate Allan W. Fung said he was not familiar with the Electoral Count Reform Act, which aims to protect future elections and comes in response to the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the US Capitol.
“I haven’t seen that bill,” Fung said on the podcast. “I’m not even sure what’s in it. So I’ll have to take my time to take a look at it before I can give you an up or down on it.”
But now Fung’s campaign is saying he misspoke and that he does support the legislation championed by by US Senator Susan Collins, a Maine Republican.
“During the podcast, which covered a wide range of topics, he simply got a few bills mixed up,” Fung campaign spokesperson Steven Paiva said.
He said Fung had previously told WPRI-Channel 12 reporter Ted Nesi that he did support the Senate version of the bill, and “nothing has changed.”
When asked why he supports that legislation, Fung said, “At this moment in history, when politicians from both sides of the aisle in Washington, D.C., are responsible for the hyper-partisanship we are seeing today, it is critical that an update to The Electoral Count Act of 1887 have legitimate bipartisan support.”
In September, the House passed a similar bill written by Representative Liz Cheney, a Wyoming Republican, and Zoe Lofgren, a California Democrat. The final vote was 229-203, with nine Republicans joining all Democrats in voting for the bill. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, a California Republican who visited Rhode Island in August to support Fung, had criticized the House bill as unconstitutional.
The central idea behind House and Senate bills to reform an arcane federal election law is simple: Congress should not decide presidential elections. The bills are a direct response to the Jan. 6 insurrection and former President Donald Trump’s efforts to find a way around the Electoral Count Act, a 19th century law that governs, along with the US Constitution, how states and Congress certify electors and declare presidential election winners.
The Senate and House bills differ mainly in how much they would change the threshold necessary for members of both chambers to object to a state’s results. Currently, only one member each from the House and Senate are required to object to a state’s electors. The House electoral reform bill would raise that threshold to at least one-third of the members of both the House and Senate, while the Senate version would raise that threshold to at least one-fifth of the members of both the House and Senate.
Both bills would ensure there is one “single, conclusive slate of electors,” as senators put it, a response to Trump allies’ unsuccessful efforts to create alternate, illegitimate slates of Trump electors in states that Biden narrowly won in 2020.
Fung said, “The House version of this bill only further politicizes any update to this 100-plus year-old law and undermines U.S. Senator Susan Collins’ good-faith efforts to arrive at a bipartisan solution capable of passing both chambers.”
His statement did not specify how the bill would politicize the process of updating the law.
“We need to come together as Americans instead of continuing down this path of political extremism on the left and right that has the people of Rhode Island questioning their confidence in the US Congress as an institution,” Fung said.
Patricia Socarras, campaign spokesperson for Fung’s challenger, Seth Magaziner, said, “Allan Fung can’t seem to answer even the most basic question without tying himself in knots, but he has been consistent about one thing: Fung pledged to put extremists like Kevin McCarthy and Marjorie Taylor Green, who voted to overturn the 2020 election, in control of the House of Representatives. Seth Magaziner will stand up for our democracy in Congress, while Allan Fung continues to throw his support behind election deniers.”
On the podcast, Magaziner had said he “absolutely” supports the Electoral Count Reform Act. “To me, the worst part of Jan. 6 was not the actions of the mob or even the actions of Donald Trump,” he said. “The worst part was that even after all of that, over 100 Republican members of the House of Representatives came back and still voted against certifying the election.”