FEC Chairwoman warns candidates not to accept help from foreign governments
Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub released a firm statement Thursday, making sure candidates for public office know they may not receive help from a foreign government, in an apparent warning to President Trump who said he’d consider taking information about an opponent from another country.
Tweeting her statement, Weintraub wrote, “I would not have thought I needed to say this.”
The head of the agency responsible for campaign finance laws clarified that any campaign that accepts help from a foreign government “risks being on the wrong end of a federal investigation.”
“Let me make something 100% clear to the America public and anyone running for public office,” Weintraub wrote. “It is illegal for any person to solicit, accept or receive anything from a foreign national in connection with a U.S. election. This is not a novel concept.”
Weintraub put out the statement 24 hours after Trump told ABC News Wednesday night that he wouldn’t necessarily report it to law enforcement if a foreign national offered him political information.
Weintraub, a Democrat, joined a chorus of lawmakers, 2020 candidates and past administration officials who criticized the president for entertaining the idea of accepting such information after special counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s report determined Russia interfered in the 2016 election. The president has since maintained his position that information from a foreigner doesn’t always need to be disclosed.
Weintraub’s statement, however, fails to clear up the question of whether information is a thing of value, an issue Mueller wrote was difficult to resolve.
The threat is more of a partisan jab given the FEC’s inability to fully enforce election laws in the last decade.
For a long time, the six-member board was split three Democrats and three Republicans and was paralyzed due to partisan deadlock. Now there are just four members, and it only takes one of them to veto a proposal.
In 2014, Washington Post opinion writer Dana Milbank wrote sarcastically, “If you’ve been thinking of breaking federal election law, this would be an excellent time to do it, because the chance of being caught is close to nil. There is no cop on the beat.”