FEC commissioner says agency ‘weaponized’ against GOP
The Federal Election Commission is “weaponized”, allowing for weak accusations to lead to long and expensive investigations. This was the charge made by the second longest serving member of this panel on Wednesday.
“The problem is glaring,” said James “Trey Trainor”, a commissioner appointed by the former president Donald Trump in 2020. “It is the increasing weaponization of government to harass and impede the political participation of citizens in our democratic process,” said Trainor. He told a House oversight panel that the Federal Election Commission had become a weapon.
Trainor, in contrast to the opening remarks of the five other members of the commission, raised the red flag that federal agencies were becoming “weaponized”, against opponents of the administration.
He did not mention the indictments of former President Donald Trump and his allies but he did refer to “current” political prosecutions as well as a previous investigation of an operator of a pro Trump Facebook page.
“Make no mistake: the headlines about criminal prosecutions of political actors reflect a trend which will continue in the near future. Trainor, an election lawyer from Texas who advised Trump’s campaign in 2016, said that the commission is now part of this problem.
His concern arose from the fact that the independent FEC had entered into an investigation agreement with the Biden Justice department. Trainor claimed that the DOJ could interfere with FEC investigations into campaign spending and share “secretly” information.
This agreement, he added, “brings [the commission] squarely into the folds of executive agencies who routinely share information between themselves.” The public is not informed that their interactions with FEC could be used as the basis for criminal investigations.
He added, “This isn’t just a hypothetical scenario, the Department of Justice has been asking us to step aside so that they can pursue an target.”
Trainor said there was also a surge in the number of partisan requests for investigations.
Trainor said that “such complaints are usually filed by ideological groups who see an opportunity to get the work done on taxpayers’ tabs without regard to the truth of the allegations.”
He cited a Facebook page titled Elect Trump 2020. He said Common Cause claimed the anonymous founder spent over $30,000 on “shady Facebook advertisements” that should have be regulated.
The FEC launched an investigation, but when they found out that the founder spent only $430 on the venture, they dropped the inquiry.
He said that the case “is an example of the way the process has been turned into the punishment.”
The following is an abbreviated form of his opening remarks, which he read at the House Administration Committee oversight hearing.
Trainor was also targeted by enemies, and he faced an investigation from the inspector general that cleared him of any ethics concerns. In a second hearing session, the inspector general claimed that Trainor had not cooperated with the investigation. However, he told Secrets that the allegations were unfounded and he didn’t feel obliged to assist.
Trainor, when the Inspector General’s report was released in August, said: “I am outraged by the huge waste of taxpayer money and time that has been wasted on this issue.”