Conservative news outlets like Infowars, Breitbart and the Drudge Report could soon be facing an inquisition from the FEC for coordinating with the Russians to blitz the realm of social media with deceptive anti-Clinton stories that effectively could have influenced the 2016 presidential election.
This could happen if top Federal Election Commission Democrat, Ellen Weintraub, is able to get her way during this Thursday’s FEC meeting.
The Washington Examiner reports:
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 elections.
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.”
The Time Magazine article which influenced Weintraub also pointed to Russian ties to conservative ownership and funding as a potential target of investigators. The report reads, citing McClatchy, “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.”
The FEC will decide at this Thursday’s meeting whether or not to investigate websites like the Drudge Report, Infowars, Breitbart, and others on the right for violating election spending rules by allowing advertising on their Facebook pages by Russian entities.
“It’s pretty easy to see how this quickly becomes an inquisition into conservative media outlets,” an elections laws expert and critic of the Weintraub bid told the Washington Examiner.
“Commissioner Weintraub appears to be laying the groundwork to subpoena people at Breitbart, Drudge, and Infowars – maybe even Matt Drudge and Alex Jones themselves,” he added.
Infowars founder Alex Jones responded on Tuesday to the news of Weintraub’s actions by saying that he is under a “criminal espionage investigation by the FBI,” and denied ever taken any money from Russia.
“I have never gotten one scintilla of money from Russia. I’ve never got any directives from Russia,’ Jones said. “This is outrageous! I mean, they want us shut down.”
On his Tuesday Broadcast, Jones was correct to point out that this Russian election tampering narrative that will not go away in Democratic circles has been, as CNN’s Van Jones put it so eloquently, a “nothing burger.”
According to Jones, Infowars is almost exclusively funded by sales from their online store which sells books, water filters, and nutritional supplements. The rest of the funding is transparent, according to Jones, who said his organization receives funding from third party ad generators like Google and AdBlade.
The Infowars founder said that he would be willing to testify publically before Congress.
Ellen Weintraub has been a big opponent of the Citizens United decision expanding corporate political spending and foreign ownership in politically active U.S. firms and in the past has denied claims of targeting or regulating the media or internet sites. She was part of the FEC commission who targeted Fox News in 2015.
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.”
“It is this Commission’s duty to do respond, and to respond forcefully. Whether a hostile foreign power provided anything of value in connection with a federal, state, or local election goes to the very heart of the Federal Election Commission’s mission and jurisdiction,” the proposal continued.
The possible FEC Inquisition is coming at an interesting time, as it has been recently revealed that the U.S. actually has a big problem with foreign influence in its election; that is, in the form of noncitizen voters.
The research organization Just Facts in New Jersey has taken a fresh look at post-election polling data and concluded that the number of noncitizens voting illegally in U.S. elections is likely far greater than previous estimates.
The group found that many as 5.7 million noncitizens may have voted in the 2008 election, playing a large role in the election win of Barack Obama.
The work of professors at Old Dominion University in Virginia also found that as many as 2.8 million noncitizens could have voted in 2008.
For 2012, Just Facts said that 3.2 million to 5.6 million noncitizens were registered to vote and 1.2 million to 3.6 million of them voted.
The suspicion over illegal votes being cast in U.S. elections sparked the Trump Administration to create a commission on election fraud to investigate voter fraud and voter suppression.
Trump has alleged that some 3-5 million illegals voted in the 2016 election, robbing him of a better result in the popular vote.
The commission had given states until July 14 to provide data including names, birth dates and partial Social Security numbers of voters but has since delayed the data turnover as the Administration awaits the ruling of a lawsuit filed by the Electronic Privacy Information Center in Washington.
While the mainstream media railed against any claim that noncitizens voted in 2016, all it takes is a turn to the evidence in North Carolina where an independent and bipartisan agency that oversees elections in the state found hundreds of illegal votes, including votes cast by felons and non-citizens, double voting, voter impersonation, and irregularities that affected mail-in absentee ballots.
With an estimated 11-12 million illegal aliens roaming the Unites States and the lax voting controls in many areas, it seems very foolish to deny that non-citizens voted in 2016. It is even more foolish to continue to case Russian influence in the election when it is clear that the vote count in the U.S. may have been bloated due to the lack of border security and voting legitimacy.