Author Topic: New fears Drudge, InfoWars, Breitbart could face Dem FEC 'inquisition'  (Read 141 times)

Offline rmstock

  • Elder
  • ****
  • Posts: 2665

New fears Drudge, InfoWars, Breitbart could face Dem FEC 'inquisition'
by Paul Bedard | Jul 11, 2017, 10:12 AM


  "A revived bid by a top Federal Election Commission Democrat could lead
   to an "inquisition" against conservative media outlets like the Drudge
   Report, InfoWars and Breitbart that take political advertising and are
   overseen by right-leaning owners or editors, according to critics.
   The plan, set for discussion at Thursday's FEC meeting, could open the
   door to political subpoenas targeting the websites, their editorial
   news decisions, and their owners, maybe even Matt Drudge and Alex
   Jones, according to an expert analysis.
   In her effort targeting foreign influence in federal and state
   elections, Commissioner Ellen Weintraub would probe spending by
   overseas sources and even partially-foreign-owned U.S. firms on
   campaigns, including their media buys. Foreign influence is illegal in
   She said that tackling foreign influence in elections could be the
   FEC's finest hour, adding, "I believe that this Commission can indeed
   rise to the challenge of understanding what happened in the 2016
   election and plugging any legal or procedural holes that could allow
   foreign actors to interfere with our future elections."
   Politico recently reported that "Weintraub's interest was piqued by an
   article published last week by Time magazine that revealed intelligence
   officials had evidence that Russian agents bought Facebook ads to
   disseminate election-themed stories. It also indicated that
   congressional investigators were examining whether Russian efforts to
   spread such content were boosted by two U.S. companies with deep ties
   to Trump — Breitbart News and Cambridge Analytica."
   Weintraub told Politico, "if there are U.S. citizens involved in any
   way in spending foreign money to influence a U.S. election, then that
   would be something that we could and should pursue."
   In her proposal, she cited the Time report of Russian ad buys on
   Facebook, drawing that enormous social media site into her focus.
   Several conservative sites like Drudge, InfoWars and Breitbart, take
   political ads.
   That report also pointed to Russian ties to conservative ownership and
   funding as a potential target of investigators. Citing a McClatchy
   report, Time said, "FBI counterintelligence investigators were probing
   whether far-right sites like Breitbart News and Infowars had
   coordinated with Russian botnets to blitz social media with
   anti-Clinton stories, mixing fact and fiction when Trump was doing
   poorly in the campaign."
   Liberal groups have also cited Drudge as a "peddler" of Russian
, likely putting him in the bull's eye of an expanded FEC
   investigative authority.
   A legal group endorsed her effort, explaining, "the FEC has broad
   investigative powers to subpoena witnesses and documents, and compel
   testimony under oath."
   Weintraub has been fighting the Citizens United decision expanding
   corporate political spending and foreign ownership in politically
   active U.S. firms. And she has recently put a new focus on reports of
   Russian interference in the 2016 election. It is not clear that the FEC
   has any jurisdiction to join the probe of Russian influence.
   But in her plan, which was shelved at last month's meeting due to last
   minute changes, she proposed increased spending for expanded
   An elections laws expert and critic of the Weintraub bid said, "It's
   pretty easy to see how this quickly becomes an inquisition into
   conservative media outlets."
   He added, "Commissioner Weintraub appears to be laying the groundwork
   to subpoena people at Breitbart, Drudge, and Infowars - maybe even Matt
   Drudge and Alex Jones themselves."
   In the past, she has dismissed claims of targeting or regulating the
   media or internet sites. In her proposal she wrote, "the American
   public is justifiably alarmed by the reports of foreign attempts to
   influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election." She added, "This is an
   all-hands-on-deck moment for our democracy."
   Republicans on the FEC, led by Commissioner Lee Goodman, have raised
   several red flags about Democratic efforts to target Drudge and other
   conservative media in broad probes of political spending on the
   Conservative media have also been targeted at the Federal
   Communications Commission. During a recent discussion on "net
   neutrality," there were protests against conservative media and signs
   targeting both Drudge and Breitbart.
   Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist,
   can be contacted at

   Drudge Report FEC Democratic Party Washington Secrets Paul Bedard "

``I hope that the fair, and, I may say certain prospects of success will not induce us to relax.''
-- Lieutenant General George Washington, commander-in-chief to
   Major General Israel Putnam,
   Head-Quarters, Valley Forge, 5 May, 1778