The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is looking to target right-wing media outlets under the guise that they could’ve helped Russia interfere into our presidential election, reported The Washington Examiner’s Paul Bedard Tuesday.
The commission will decide at this Thursday’s meeting whether or not to investigate websites like the Drudge Report, Breitbart and others on the right for violating election spending rules by allowing advertising on their Facebook pages by Russian entities.
The call for investigation was spearheaded by the FEC’s Democrat commissioner, Ellen L. Weintraub, who has been trying to accomplish this for months. In May, she told Politico, “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.”
Weintraub cited a recent report from Time magazine which revealed Russian agents had bought Facebook ads during election season to disseminate anti-Clinton propaganda. Time, citing a McClatchy report, also alleged that some of these right-wing media outlets may have had ties to Russian agents and may have coordinated these election-related “attacks” through their advertising.
While the FEC’s role is to regulate proper use of campaign spending, it has been accused in recent years of overstepping its boundaries. According to Bedard, this could quickly lay way for the commission to put these sites through an “inquisition:”
An elections laws expert and critic of the Weintraub bid said, "It's pretty easy to see how this quickly becomes an inquisition into conservative media outlets." He added, "Commissioner Weintraub appears to be laying the groundwork to subpoena people at Breitbart, Drudge, and Infowars - maybe even Matt Drudge and Alex Jones themselves."
As for Weintraub, she denied any effort to target specific media outlets. But Weintraub hasn’t been shy about her partisan agenda to attack the Trump Administration since before he even took office. She frequently tweets out anti-Trump articles from left-wing media sites and even appeared on MSNBC in June to demand her fellow commissioners take action against the administration for Russian collusion in the 2016 election.
Weintraub was also part of the same commission who targeted Fox News in 2015. The six-member, bipartisan commission needs four members’ votes to agree to any decision but she, along with the two other Democrat members, tried to secretly pass a vote to punish Fox News for sponsoring a Republican presidential debate.
While Bedard noted at the time that this was the “first time in history” where the FEC had tried to punish a media outlet for sponsoring a debate, it appears that the FEC’s partisan effort to silence right wing media was just beginning.