Saturday, May 27, 2017

FEC commissioner asks agency to broaden Trump-Russia investigation (hunter) · Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 3:00 pm

The Federal Elections Commission is mostly known around these parts for a complete inability to enforce election laws. This is due to the commission's partisan makeup; when a violation comes down the pike, certain partisan (hint: Republican) members of the commission can simply refuse to investigate possible breaches by certain partisan (hint: Republican) candidates and that's that, good bye, have fun on election day.

The commission is slightly twitchier when it comes to foreign interference in our elections, or at least they claim to be. Which is, these days, newly relevant.

A member of the Federal Election Commission is calling on the agency to investigate whether Russian agents paid for Facebook ads to spread damaging stories about Hillary Clinton ahead of last fall’s presidential election.

“I think there is potential there for finding a violation, but I don’t want to suggest that I have prejudged anything that could potentially come before me,” said FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democratic appointee to the commission.

That's based on a complaint from two watchdog groups, which highlights Russian-paid internet propagandists as indeed being a foreign expenditure in a campaign, which is under the FEC's purview. Weintraub wants to know if any of those efforts included advertising to boost the profiles and visibility of the stories they posted.

The FEC is already investigating Russian interference efforts, so this wouldn't be an additional investigation but lumped onto the existing one. If the other commissioners allow it, that is. Politico speculates that the FEC could be in a position to undertake a more "transparent" investigation than the congressional versions, but we won't hold our breath on that one.


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