WASHINGTON—Rep. Rodney Davis (R-Ill.), the ranking Republican on the House Committee on Administration, is asking Federal Election Commission (FEC) Inspector General Christopher Skinner to investigate “potential violations of federal ethics regulations” by the commission’s chairman.
Davis requested in a letter to Skinner that he investigate FEC Chairman Ellen L. Weintraub’s “use of official government time and resources for ideological, political purposes; her continued appearances in national media to discuss matters outside the purview of the FEC; and her refusal to recuse herself from any matters under review involving President [Donald] Trump, despite the apparent conflict of interest between [Weintraub’s] nonpartisan position at the FEC and the use of her official Twitter account to publicly disparage the President.”
Davis made his letter to Skinner, which was made available to The Epoch Times, public on Oct. 10.
“I believe that this pattern of behavior is unbecoming of the Federal Election Commission Chair and may have possibly broken ethics regulations. Impartial, nonpartisan leadership by the Chair of the FEC is essential for the Commission to fairly enforce our nation’s campaign finance laws.”
Weintraub is a Democratic appointee to the FEC, which has six commissioners, including three from each party. At least four commissioners’ votes are required to take official action, a requirement intended by Congress to ensure the FEC remains nonpartisan in regulating political speech in campaigns.
House Democrats passed legislation earlier this year that changed the FEC to five members and gave control to partisan majorities.
Weintraub has been on the FEC since 2002 and is currently in her third tour as chairman. Her official biography states that before 2002, she was “Of Counsel in the Political Law Division” of the Perkins Coie law firm that routinely represents Democratic Party committees and candidates.
The firm recently came into public prominence as the go-between on behalf of the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) for hiring former UK spy Christopher Steele for opposition research against Trump.
The infamous “Steele Dossier” contained multiple unverified allegations about Trump colluding with Russian interests against Clinton and was the prime document used by the FBI to justify its spying on members of Trump’s 2016 campaign team.
Davis cited two letters and two official statements on FEC letterhead and issued by the commission, in which Weintraub severely rebuked Trump for claiming there was voter fraud in New Hampshire on Election Day 2016.
“Chair Weintraub has appeared in the national media at least six times just in the last two months to discuss issues outside the purview of the FEC,” Davis told Skinner in his letter.
“She has not indicated in any interview that she was speaking as a private citizen and not as the chair of the non-partisan FEC.”
“On Sept. 17, 2019, Chair Weintraub hosted an event at FEC headquarters related to disinformation online, an issue area that is outside the purview of the FEC.”
“However, the panel featured 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,’” Davis wrote.
Davis said Weintraub’s “ceaseless, pointed critiques of the President’s public statements are political opinions,” and Weintraub’s comments about bills that Congress should pass “is a political discussion in which the Chair of the FEC should not be engaging.”
In addition to asking for an IG probe, Davis said Weintraub should recuse from any case coming before the FEC that involves Trump.
“She should publicly admit her political differences with the President, disclose her conflict of interest, and at the very least recuse herself from voting” on such issues when they come before the FEC.
Shortly after Davis’s letter became public, Weintraub responded on Twitter, saying “I will not be silenced. The independence of the United States Federal Election Commission will not be compromised.”
Contact Mark Tapscott at firstname.lastname@example.org.