A Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is attending a fun-filled event this weekend sponsored by groups petitioning the watchdog agency, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.
It’s unclear how FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub is paying for her travel expenses for the Unrig the System Summit, but taxpayers and host organizations have previously funded her trips, prior DCNF investigations found. But the conference’s social events and the sponsors’ ties to the FEC create potential issues if the commissioner’s travel was funded through either manner.
If the FEC paid for Weintraub’s travel, taxpayers would be potentially funding her flights, hotel stay and meals for serving on two-hours worth of panels at a summit that includes alcohol-filled social events.
If the Unrig the System Summit is paying for Weintraub’s trip, it means the commissioner is accepting money from special interest groups that hold stake in the FEC’s activities and decisions.
The weekend-long summit is “about crossing partisan and ideological divides and working together on concrete solutions to unrig America’s political system,” and Weintraub – a featured speaker – will participate on two one-hour-long panels, according to the event’s website.
The event will also include open bars, live music and stand-up comedy with actress Jennifer Lawrence acting as hostess. Variety called the summit “politically charged” Thursday.
The Unrig the System Summit does offer a number of other professional panels each day, but the event’s website says it will feature “plenty of New Orleans fun mixed in” and promotes “local celebrations, parades and live music.”
One sponsor, a group called “End Citizens United,” has filed several complaints with the FEC. One complaint, for example, pointed to a company that suddenly formed and donated $400,000 to two Republican candidates during the 2016 presidential primary race.
End Citizens United also aims to defeat 20 incumbent U.S. politicians – all of whom are Republicans who “do the bidding of special interests such as drug companies, big oil and Wall Street, while also rigging the system,” its website said.
Similarly, another sponsor, Represent.Us, has lobbied the FEC to regulate online advertisements.
One panel Weintraub will join Saturday is titled “What to Do About Citizens United?” and will include two law professors and a vice president from the highly-liberal Center for American Progress.
The commissioner also attended one panel Friday titled “From Russia, with Facebook: Foreign Influence in American Elections.”
Meanwhile, Weintraub has accepted gifts from foreign groups in the form of fully-funded trips abroad, TheDCNF previously revealed. She took thousands of dollars from the organizations bankrolling her travel to places like Central America, which included lengthy stays in expensive hotels and costly meals.
The Democrat also previously proposed an FEC plan to defend against foreign influence in U.S. elections.
Weintraub did not respond to a request for comment.
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