Federal Election Commission

Tag Archive

National: Campaign watchdogs cite ‘significant concerns’ if Texas lawyer Trey Trainor gets FEC post | Dallas Morning News

Campaign watchdog groups blasted Austin lawyer Trey Trainor on Wednesday, warning senators that his ties to the White House and views on campaign finance should raise “significant concerns” should he win a spot on the Federal Election Commission. Ten groups wrote a letter to senators expressing their concerns, though they stopped short of urging the Senate to reject the nomination. “Americans expect and deserve an FEC that does not allow special interest to run roughshod over our campaign finance laws, and the Senate must take great care to make sure Trey Trainor is not just another fox to guard the henhouse,” said Karen Hobert Flynn, President of Common Cause. “Trainor has exhibited an open contempt for many of the campaign finance laws he would be charged with enforcing at the FEC which is deeply troubling at a time when the agency is mired in dysfunction, unable or unwilling to enforce the laws passed by Congress.” Read More

National: Trump Nominee to FEC Tried to Shred Texas’ Already-Weak Ethics Laws | Texas Observer

In yet another case of the cosmic satire in which we live hitting its mark a little too hard on the nose, the Trump administration last week nominated Texas lawyer Trey Trainor to a seat on the Federal Election Commission, an agency that’s supposed to enforce and interpret campaign finance laws. Trainor is notable mainly for his general opposition to campaign finance laws, so his nomination makes sense, in that most of Trump’s appointees so far either hate or are ignorant of the thing they’re expected to oversee. But Trainor’s nomination also provided an opportunity to make note, once again, of the similarities between Texas’ screwed-up politics and the nation’s increasingly screwed-up politics. If you haven’t heard of Trainor, you’re not alone — he’s well-known around the Capitol, but he’s a behind-the-scenes guy. His name rarely pops up in news stories. Read More

Editorials: How the FEC Turned a Blind Eye to Foreign Meddling | Ann Ravel/Politico

When Facebook revealed to investigators that a Kremlin-linked troll farm paid the company $100,000 for divisive political ads during the 2016 election, many saw the news as a bombshell. But in a year of unpredictable leaks, scandals and scoops, this just might be the least surprising news. Almost everybody with a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account saw a political advertisement on the internet last year. The opportunity for a political campaign is obvious. Internet ads give candidates and interest groups the ability to microtarget potential voters more effectively than TV, for far less money. Approximately two-thirds of Americans get at least some of their news from social media, while print newspaper readership is a fraction of what it once was. And yet, policymakers for years have ignored or outright opposed the need to hold the internet advertising industry to the same standards the country has already agreed on for television and radio. Our campaign finance rules are outdated for the internet age, and rules on the books aren’t enforced. Now, with the revelation that Russia, too, sees the political value in America’s online advertising market, the chickens have come home to roost. Read More

National: Texas lawyer Trey Trainor nominated for Federal Election Commission | The Texas Tribune

President Donald Trump is nominating Trey Trainor, an Austin lawyer well-known in Texas politics, to serve on the Federal Election Commission. The White House announced Trainor’s appointment late Tuesday night. He must be confirmed by the Senate. Trainor is a longtime attorney specializing in election law, campaign finance and ethics. He has served as the lawyer for the conservative nonprofit Empower Texans, defending it during its long-running battles with the Texas Ethics Commission over whether it should have to disclose its donors. Trainor originally supported U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the 2016 presidential primary, but once Cruz dropped out, Trainor helped pave the way for Trump’s nomination at the Republican National Convention. Trainor served as general counsel to the RNC platform committee, a job that put him on the front lines of the party’s efforts to quell an anti-Trump uprising on the floor. Read More

National: Beyond Russia: 5 Ways to Interfere in U.S. Elections—Without Breaking the Law | The Atlantic

Russia’s apparent interference in the U.S. presidential election is a big story, but it’s part of an even bigger one: the ease with which foreign actors can insert themselves into the democratic process these days, and the difficulty of determining how to minimize that meddling. Witness the disagreement in recent weeks among leaders of the U.S. Federal Election Commission. Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub has urged the regulatory agency to plug the types of “legal or procedural holes” that enabled Russia to pose “an unprecedented threat to the very foundations of our American political community,” while her Republican colleagues have resisted her proposed fixes. Read More

National: Trump Jr.’s Emails Gain Attention as FEC Eyes Foreign Influence Issue | Bloomberg BNA

Critics of President Donald Trump say his son’s emails about meeting a Russian lawyer who promised damaging information on Hillary Clinton is a “smoking gun.”But defenders of the president and Donald Trump Jr. said the meeting, which took place last year as the race between Trump and Clinton was gearing up, amounted to “nothing” and was being overblown by the media.Among those whose job is to decide which side is right is the Federal Election Commission. The FEC is set to again consider in an open meeting July 13 what can be done to protect U.S. elections from interference by Russia and other foreign powers. The FEC is not expected, however, to directly address the newly revealed Trump meeting or other specific cases. The commission already had more than a dozen pending cases about foreign influence in last year’s elections when the news broke about Donald Trump Jr.’s meting with the Russian, leading inevitably to even more new enforcement complaints. The commission, however is as deeply divided along partisan lines as is the rest of America and has yet to signal what, if anything, it will do about these matters. Read More

National: FEC Mulls How Much Harassment Is Enough for Disclosure Exemption | Bloomberg

Lawyers for the Socialist Workers Party said the party shouldn’t have to show the party faces “serious” threats of harassment and reprisals in order to be exempt from Federal Election Commission disclosure rules. Extensive written comments filed by party lawyers ahead of an April 20 FEC open meeting sought to persuade the commissioners they should extend the party’s unique, decades-old exemption from campaign finance law requirements to disclose donors and vendors. The fringe party’s long history of persecution should be enough for a continued waiver from having to disclose, the comments said, despite arguments that recent incidents have been few and relatively minor. Read More

National: FEC commissioner sends letter to President Trump: Where is your proof of voter fraud? | The Washington Post

A Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission sent a letter to President Trump on Wednesday reiterating her request that he provide evidence for his claim that thousands of people were bused to New Hampshire to vote illegally in the 2016 elections. FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub told Trump in a letter emailed to the White House that the president’s unsubstantiated charge challenges the legitimacy of the election and could be cited by policymakers nationwide as a reason to pursue “unwarranted voter restrictions. Our democracy depends on the American people’s faith in our elections,” Weintraub wrote. “Your voter-fraud allegations run the risk of undermining that faith.” Read More

National: FEC earning congressional attention — for the wrong reasons | Center for Public Integrity

The Federal Election Commission — an agency of clashing commissioners, seething staffers and key vacancies — may soon face congressmen who wonder: Why’s the agency a basket case? Such a trip under Congress’ microscope could come in the form of a Committee on House Administration oversight hearing, something the FEC hasn’t endured since 2011, when super PACs were still novel and the now-seminal Citizens United v. FEC decision wasn’t yet two years old. A planned oversight hearing in 2014 never materialized. “It’s time,” Committee on House Administration member Barry Loudermilk, a Republican congressman from Georgia, told the Center for Public Integrity. “We should take the opportunity and have a re-evaluation.” An oversight hearing is “both urgent and necessary” and should be conducted “sooner rather than later,” said Jamie Fleet, a spokesman for Rep. Robert Brady, the committee’s ranking Democrat. Read More

National: Democratic Member Quits Federal Election Commission, Setting Up Political Fight | The New York Times

A Democrat on the Federal Election Commission is quitting her term early because of the gridlock that has gripped the panel, offering President Trump an unexpected chance to shape political spending rules. The commissioner, Ann M. Ravel, said during an interview that she would send Mr. Trump her letter of resignation this week. She pointed to a series of deadlocked votes between the panel’s three Democrats and three Republicans that she said left her little hope the group would ever be able to rein in campaign finance abuses. “The ability of the commission to perform its role has deteriorated significantly,” said Ms. Ravel, who has sparred bitterly with the Republican election commissioners during her three years on the panel. She added, “I think I can be more effective on the outside.” Her departure will probably set off an intense political fight over how a new commissioner should be picked. By tradition, Senate Democrats would be allowed to select the replacement, but, by law, the choice belongs to the president, and Mr. Trump has shown little interest in Washington customs. Read More