House Speaker Paul Ryan faced Democratic criticism Thursday after choosing not to renew the term of a federal agency head who has helped lead the charge on securing elections from hackers.
Matthew Masterson, chairman of the Election Assistance Commission, will depart once the Senate confirms a successor, three people familiar with the situation told POLITICO. His four-year term as a commissioner expired in December, but he has stayed while Ryan contemplated whom to recommend to President Donald Trump as a nominee for the seat.
Ryan has decided that Masterson won’t be on the list. Another commissioner was already scheduled to take the chairman’s slot on Saturday, but Masterson could have remained as a commissioner if he were renominated.
The move comes as the government scrambles to ensure that Russian hackers don’t repeat the cyberattacks that roiled the 2016 election. The four-member commission, originally founded to help states apply the lessons of the bungled 2000 presidential election, has taken on an increasingly prominent role in promoting security — to the consternation of some Republicans who say it has outlived its purpose.