While Trump Makes Excuses For Russia, The FEC Quietly Looks At How They Can End Election Meddling


It might appear as though our government—in particular, Donald Trump—isn’t really doing anything to prevent foreign influence in our elections. Sure, we have multiple investigations going on over whether Trump and/or his campaign colluded with Russia, but what are we actually doing to ensure that other influences, such as foreign money, don’t find their way into our electoral processes?

It’s hard to know for sure, but on the surface, it doesn’t seem like we’re doing much on that front. Except, perhaps, for the Federal Election Commission. While they can’t look into much of what Congress and Special Counsel Robert Mueller are looking into, they can begin investigating how foreign money influenced our elections and work to stop that.

In a memo dated June 21, Ellen L. Weintraub, one of the FEC’s commissioners, outlined the FEC’s role in all of this. While their enforcement action in the past has focused on direct campaign contributions from foreign nationals, and indirect ones made through various organizations, she says the commission now needs to know about money spent on things like social media ads and attacks on state voter rolls and campaign finance databases. So she’s requesting both open- and closed-door briefings on these things from the Department of Justice, or the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network over at the Department of the Treasury.

They can also revisit their rules regarding how corporations can help finance elections, and determine whether existing regulations should be tightened and whether new regulations are needed. The FEC has broad power in this area, and can hold hearings and demand testimony, and require documents to be produced. Depending on how things go, we may start seeing some of this from them.

And, of course, they can develop recommendations for legislation that needs to go through Congress to help ensure the integrity of our elections.

Weintraub asks many questions in the memo that need answers, including whether or not any bills are currently moving through Congress that would help strengthen our legal defenses against foreign influences like what we saw in 2016.

The memo is old-ish, but the FEC is apparently meeting to discuss these very things on July 13. We all know Trump will not do anything. We all know Congress is going to take forever to act, if, indeed, they ever do act. But there are things the FEC can do now to help end this.

The FEC is deeply divided on many issues. However, you can write to the commissioners and tell them that you want them to protect our elections and work to end this kind of foreign meddling, in which Russia did engage, heavily. Their email addresses are below:

Here’s the full memorandum as well:


Featured image via Jens Schluter – Pool/Getty Images

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