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FEC chairwoman says she ‘will not be silenced’ after Republican lawmaker requests ethics investigation

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub said on Thursday that she “will not be silenced” after a Republican congressman requested she be investigated for ethics violations for her public statements.

Rep. Rodney Davis of Illinois, who was named an honorary state chair for President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign last week, sent a letter on Friday to FEC Inspector General Christopher Skinner, asking him to investigate Weintraub’s “refusal … to recuse herself” from any matters involving the President. He argued that the chairwoman’s public statements regarding Trump on Twitter undermines her nonpartisan position.

“It is absolutely within my official duties as a federal election official to comment publicly on any aspect of the integrity of federal elections in the United States,” Weintraub wrote in a tweet, echoing her statement from 2017 when a similar request was made.

“This new complaint covers the same ground as one filed in 2017,” she continued. “That one was found to be absolutely baseless.”

Davis’ letter also requested that Weintraub’s use of “official government time and resources,” along with her media appearances and comments on “matters outside the purview of the FEC,” be investigated. The letter listed instances of Weintraub allegedly using FEC resources, such as official letterhead, to “publish her personal opinion on political matters,” as well as her criticism of the President on national television. He said her statements showed a conflict of interest.

“Chair Weintraub has continued her pattern of blatant partisan behavior under the guise of her official duties as FEC Chair even after the 2017 IG investigation,” Davis stated in the letter. “Impartial, nonpartisan leadership by the Chair of the FEC is essential for the Commission to fairly enforce our nation’s campaign finance laws.”

Davis also criticized the 2017 investigation, saying it failed to include interviews with all commissioners and “lacked a clear legal basis.”

A report from the Office of Inspector General following the conclusion of the 2017 investigation stated that the “OIG found no evidence that Commissioner Weintraub violated ethical standards.”

“Commissioner Weintraub is tasked with ensuring the public the integrity of the government and as a FEC Commissioner she is to ensure campaign finance laws are administered,” the report stated. “Commissioners have been allowed to express their opinions and make statements in the past to reporters and at conferences, and author articles on a variety of election topics…without being disciplined or found to violate…standards.”

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