FEC Chairwoman Uses Twitter To Get Memo To Public

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) chairwoman, Ellen L. Weintraub, posted the entire draft of a memo addressing foreign election interference to Twitter after its publication in the agency’s weekly digest was delayed. The now-viral 57-tweet thread alleged that a Republican colleague blocked the publication. Caroline Hunter is currently the only Republican commission member.

The memo, which Ms. Weintraub said was drafted by the commission’s staff, regarded rules about prohibited activities involving foreign nationals in elections. It also contained several updates on penalties for violations of campaign laws. The tweets also included the scheduled weekly digest and resources for campaigns. The memo has now been posted to the FEC website.

Ms. Hunter has challenged the allegations, saying she asked Ms. Weintraub, the only Democratic member of the commission, for time to evaluate the document before it was included in the digest. Hunter said that Ms. Weintraub refused to publish the digest without her document.

The tweet storm drew widespread attention to the tensions on the commission. Right now, there are only three members – Weintraub, Hunter and Steven T. Walther, an independent. The commission needs four of six members to meet and take action. Its vice chairman, Matthew S. Petersen, resigned in August.

The FEC’s digest has been regularly released going back to 2009. The only recent disruption was the government shutdown that began around Christmas of last year. In 2019, the weekly digest has been published every Friday.

FEC commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Both Ms. Weintraub and Ms. Hunter were appointed to the commission by President George W. Bush. To encourage nonpartisanship, no more than three commissioners can represent the same political party at a given time. Ms. Weintraub has chaired the commission three times since her appointment. Ms. Hunter served as chairwoman last year.



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