Washington D.C. – Cause of Action Institute (“CoA Institute”) today called for an investigation into whether Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) Commissioner Ellen Weintraub violated federal ethics laws when she demanded President Trump provide evidence of his voter fraud claims in New Hampshire. Commissioner Weintraub used government property and official time to make these statements, and then promoted her statement on the FEC website, social media, and national media outlets.

In its letter, CoA Institute asks the FEC’s Office of Inspector General and Designated Agency Ethics Officer to open an investigation into whether Commissioner Weintraub violated her ethical obligations and to determine whether it is appropriate for the FEC website to continue to host the statement related to voter fraud and New Hampshire criminal violations, both of which concern matters outside the agency’s jurisdiction. Despite its name, the FEC has no authority over voter fraud claims.

CoA Institute Assistant Vice President Lee Steven: “The public must have confidence that federal agency employees are acting within their ethical requirements and that taxpayer dollars are being used for authorized purposes.  Commissioner Weintraub’s behavior threatens the public’s faith in both of these important principals.”

On February 9, 2017, President Trump was reported to have stated that voter fraud in New Hampshire cost him and former Senator Kelly Ayotte electoral victories in that state in November 2016.   In response to that report, Commissioner Weintraub issued a statement calling “upon President Trump to immediately share his evidence with the public and with the appropriate law-enforcement authorities so that his allegations may be investigated promptly and thoroughly.”   Her statement also claimed that the “scheme the President of the United States alleges would constitute thousands of felony criminal offenses under New Hampshire law.” Commissioner Weintraub subsequently appeared on CNN and public radio to discuss her statement.

When asked about her position, Commissioner Weintraub stated that “[a]s a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, I fight every day to build the faith of the American people in our elections. . . .  It’s absolutely my right to raise public questions about another public official’s statements about the integrity of our elections.”   In October 2016, however, Commissioner Weintraub took the exact opposite stance, stating through her Twitter account that voter fraud was beyond FEC jurisdiction. In response to the question “What is the FEC doing abt [sic] recent reports of voter fraud?” she replied, “That’s outside the @FEC’s jurisdiction.  We do campaign finance *only*.  The elections themselves are handled by the states.”

FEC regulations provide that FEC members and employees are covered by the Office of Government Ethics (“OGE”) rules governing the proper use of government property and official time. Under OGE regulations, Commissioner Weintraub may only use FEC property and act in her official capacity for purposes that advance the FEC mission as authorized in law or regulation.

The full letter is available here.