The ranking Republican on the House committee overseeing the Federal Election Commission asked the inspector general on Monday to investigate Democratic Commission Chair Ellen Weintraub, suggesting she improperly used her position for political purposes.
“It is my opinion that her ceaseless, pointed critiques of the president’s public statements are political opinions,” Illinois Rep. Rodney Davis wrote in the letter, which was addressed to FEC Inspector General Christopher Skinner and obtained by the Daily Caller. “This pattern of behavior is unbecoming of the FEC chair and may have possibly violated ethics regulations that we all as federal employees must abide by.”
Davis said Weintraub used FEC resources to criticize the president and promote legislation in Congress, writing, “Weintraub issued a statement on FEC letterhead, and hosted to this day on the FEC website, requesting that President Trump ‘immediately share his evidence [of alleged voter fraud in New Hampshire] with the public and with the inappropriate law-enforcement authorities so that his allegations may be investigated.” (RELATED: Democrats Want A New, Partisan Majority At FEC To Regulate Internet)
Because the FEC is technically charged with enforcing campaign finance law, Davis said the matter was outside Weintraub’s purview. He said other items that Weintraub has sought to pursue — including the regulation of online speech — are also outside her jurisdiction, and asked the OIG to consider a Sept. 17 event Weintraub hosted where participants suggested ways to limit the president’s speech.
“Chair Weintraub hosted an event at FEC headquarters related to disinformation online, an issue area that is outside the purview of the FEC,” Davis wrote. “However, the event featured panel participants who spent a great deal of time focusing on their interpretation of President Trump’s tweets and other public statements, including some participants calling for the president to be ‘banned from Twitter.’”
The FEC has been unable to act in a formal capacity since the beginning of September due to a lack of quorum. The six-member agency requires four commissioners to hold a vote, but presently has only three. Weintraub, who is approaching her 17th anniversary at the agency, has used the lack of activity to speak out on political matters and to advocate for legislation in Congress. The Senate is responsible for producing nominees to fill the agency. (RELATED: Take It From This Campaign Finance Attorney: Trump Is In The Clear In My Area Of Law)
Democrats on the House Committee on Administration scheduled a Sept. 25 hearing to talk about the issue, but abruptly cancelled the hearing to avoid distracting from efforts to impeach the president.
The OIG concluded a similar investigation in December 2017, but Davis said it was appropriate for Skinner, who became the inspector general two months ago, to open a new one. “Chair Weintraub has continued her pattern of blatant partisan behavior under the guise of her official duties … even after the 2017 IG investigation,” Davis wrote. He also said the previous investigation “failed to include interviews with all commissioners,” and added, “the conclusion of the 2017 IG report lacked a clear legal basis.”