Credo Action

Tell the Federal Election Commission: Investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election

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The petition to the Federal Election Commission reads:

“The Federal Election Commission has the power and obligation to monitor and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act. It must thoroughly investigate not only Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election but potential collusion by the Trump campaign.”

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    Tell the Federal Election Commission: Investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election

    With each new Trump-Russia bombshell, the need for in-depth investigation grows. The appointment of a special prosecutor is a start, but it will not be enough. We need to push for every agency with oversight and authority to dig in now.

    The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has a specific role to play. It is responsible for monitoring and enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act. The act prohibits foreign spending for the purpose of influencing an election and prevents campaigns from coordinating with foreign groups.1 This means that the FEC has the authority to investigate whether Russians spent money to interfere in our election and whether there was any coordination between Russian operatives and anyone from the Trump campaign.

    The FEC has a history of being divided along partisan lines, so it is unlikely commissioners will use their full authority unless there is massive pressure to do so. We need to do everything we can to make sure they use their power to protect the integrity of our democracy.

    Tell the FEC: Fully investigate Russia’s attempt to influence our elections.

    TIME Magazine recently reported that Russian operatives bought Facebook ads to promote fake anti-Clinton news stories.2 That news prompted FEC member Ellen Weintraub to say that, if true, those reports could represent a potential violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act that should be investigated. 3

    FEC staff have already started an investigation in response to a complaint filed in December by two watchdog groups.4 The complaint obligates the FEC to analyze whether Russian interference in the election, or possible Trump campaign coordination with that interference, could constitute a campaign finance violation.5 The FEC should investigate the Facebook claims as well.

    Tell the FEC: Fully investigate Russia’s attempt to influence our elections.

    The FEC staff investigations are only the beginning of the process by which the FEC can enforce potential Russian or Trump campaign violations of election law. After the investigation is submitted to commissioners, four of them must affirm that a violation may have occurred so that the FEC can issue subpoenas, collect testimony under oath, consider civil penalties or work with the Department of Justice to pursue criminal charges.6

    That is where we come in. The FEC is supposed to be bipartisan, with three Democrats and three Republicans, but it is one Democratic member short. That means that Republican commissioners have the power to play politics and block a real investigation. We have to make sure they know that we are paying attention and expect them to defend the integrity of our elections, not protect the corrupt fascist who leads the Republican party.

    Tell the FEC: Fully investigate Russia’s attempt to influence our elections.

    References:

    1. Kenneth P. Vogel, "FEC member urges escalated Trump-Russia inquiry," POLITICO, May 23, 2017.
    2. Massimo Calabresi, "Inside Russia’s social media war on America," TIME Magazine, May 18, 2017.
    3. Vogel, "FEC member urges escalated Trump-Russia inquiry."
    4. Ron Fein and Julian Schreibman, "Did the Trump campaign collude with Russia? Follow the Money," Newsweek, May 6, 2017.
    5. Vogel, "FEC member urges escalated Trump-Russia inquiry."
    6. Ibid.