In February 2017, Cause of Action Institute asked the Inspector General (“IG”) for the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) to look into statements made by Commissioner Ellen Weintraub.  We recently obtained a copy of the IG’s report on the issue, clearing Commissioner Weintraub of wrongdoing.

Although we disagree with the IG’s conclusions, the most troubling aspects of the report are Commissioner Weintraub’s statements defending her actions.  The IG reports Weintraub as saying:

  • “Commissioner Weintraub stated that she is not limited to the Federal Election Campaign Act regarding her ability to speak on different matters.”
  • “Also, Commissioner Weintraub claimed that her statements were public statements not letters to the President directly. Commissioner Weintraub reiterated that she did not ask for the President to send the documents to her, but asked him to share them with the public. Thus, she was not asking the documents to be sent to the FEC for review. Weintraub stated she is sure the President, and his lawyers, did not think she was asking for the information on behalf of the Commission thus they would have responded.”
  • “Commissioner Weintraub stated her authority to look into the issue is not the point, because as a Commissioner and public figure, she had the authority to speak on the matter.”

We strongly disagree with Commissioner Weintraub.  The FEC is a creature of statute.  The agency, its commissioners, and employees are only permitted to take the actions permitted by its authorizing statute.  Being an FEC commissioner is not a roving license to use the office for any purpose one deems appropriate.  Of course, Ms. Weintraub is free to speak on any matter in her personal capacity.  But she may not use FEC resources in whatever manner she wishes.

We respect the IG but disagree with the office’s conclusion on this point.

Click here to access the full report.