State Senator Don Huffines is in Russia for what he says in an effort to combat election meddling.
Huffines is on the visit with Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, who says he’s been trying to open a line of dialogue between lawmakers from the two countries.
However, Huffines says he is using the trip to tell Russia not to mess with Texas elections. He said he believes traveling from Dallas to Russia for face-to-face meetings will make a difference. He says this is something his constituents have been worried about. Some are questioning though if it's really going to make a difference.
Huffines told FOX 4 by phone that he believes he can use the meetings to protect Texas elections.
“Certainly, people in my district are upset about it,” he said. “And I wanted to look them in the eye — the Russians in the eye — and specifically get from them an acknowledgement publically that they would not mess with Texas elections.”
Huffines is pushing that message everywhere. He says he has secured a commitment that the Russians won't mess with the elections.
When asked if he truly believed the Russians will stick to their word and not mess with elections, Huffines said “I’m kind of like and old Reagan. Trust, but verify.”
Huffines’ trip differs from the agenda of Senator Paul, who is pushing a dialogue and says they're not talking about specific issues. Meanwhile, Huffines says he's making the trip about elections.
SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson says if Huffines wants to make an impact, he needs to talk to different people.
“The problem is he's talking to the wrong people. Putin and his national security services are doing the messing,” the SMU professor sad. “Russian legislators don't have a lot of control over President Putin.”
Huffines is up for reelection this fall. Jillson says it's possible his base could applaud the move.
“We're ten weeks or so from an election in which he's seeking reelection against a credible Democratic challenger,” Jillson said. “So it's possible that his base will think, ‘Wow. This is really assertive.'”
Huffines’ staff says the senator paid for the trip with his own money and not taxpayers' money.