Democratic Election Commissioner Demands Probe Of Russian Links To Facebook, Drudge, HuffPo; "Faith In Democracy" Shaken

In what she has called an "all-hands-on-deck moment for our democracy," Federal Election Commissioner Ellen Weintraub has inserted herself into the fading 'Russia-did-it' narrative demanding the federal government's probe into alleged Russian influence is widened to foreign companies and internet sites that take political ads, like Facebook or the Drudge Report.

Citing petitions from leftist anti-Trump groups...

Her proposal was not posted on the FEC website that was revamped in part to provide more transparency. Campaign finance reporter David Levinthal of the Center for Public Integrity tweeted it out...

Some key fearmongeringly over-reaching excerpts include...

This Commission is sworn to fulfill “the sovereign’s obligation to preserve the basic conception of a political community."

 

This is an all-hands-on-deck moment for our democracy. Former Vice President Dick Cheney has said that Russia’s alleged actions could be considered “an act of war” against the United States.

 

...

 

The mere allegation that foreign interference may have occurred shakes the faith of Americans in our democracy.

 

The FEC must find out the facts of what happened during the 2016 U.S. presidential election and move swiftly and firmly to fix any problems we find.

 

Only then can we begin to restore the American people’s resilient but battered faith that our federal elections belong to us – and not to some foreign power.

As The Washington Examiner's Paul Bedard notes, critics of the idea called it a "federal power grab" beyond the scope of the FEC's powers.

In her new proposal, she goes much further than earlier concerns about corporations and internet sites, though offered no evidence of interference other than news reports and two petitions from leftist groups.

 

She is urging the FEC to look into political spending by foreign sources on the internet, including Facebook, and presumably any other site that runs political ads, like the Drudge Report or Huffington Post.

 

As part of that she called for open- and closed-door briefings by Justice and Treasury financial officials on the issue.

 

She also suggested that the FEC get investigators from other agencies, prompting a critic to ask, "why would the FEC take resources away from other agencies, like DOJ, that have far more authority to actually do something about Russia?"

 

What's more, she wants to assure public that state and federal databases are safe, though the agency doesn't have any authority over state elections boards, and has reportedly farmed out large portions of its U.S. campaign data entry tasks to workers in India.

Perhaps notably, her previous efforts to focus on politically active U.S. corporations with foreign ownership have been blocked by Republicans on the FEC.