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FEC commissioner tells Congress agency 'has become a weapon' against political opponents

Commissioner James "Trey" Trainor warned about an FEC agreement with the DOJ that he said "is harmful to the free, public discourse of ideas, and the mission of transparency at the Commission."

Published: September 21, 2023 3:20pm

A Trump-appointed member of the Federal Election Commission is telling Congress the agency "has become a weapon," explaining how it has been used against political opponents.

Commissioner James "Trey" Trainor, a Texas election lawyer who advised the 2016 Trump presidential campaign, made the comment Wednesday when testifying at a House Administration Committee oversight hearing, on the issue of how the FEC has entered into an agreement with the Justice Department on investigations.

The agreement "brings the Commission squarely into the fold of other executive agencies that routinely share information amongst themselves," Trainor said.

He also said it "is harmful to the free, public discourse of ideas, and the mission of transparency at the commission.

"Members of the public interacting with the commission are not given notice that their interactions are memorialized by bureaucrats and could become the basis of a criminal investigation by another law enforcement agency."

Trainor also says agreement with the DOJ has made the FEC "become a weapon."

"Make no mistake, the current headlines about the criminal prosecution of political actors reflect a trend that is going to continue for the foreseeable future," he said, referring to the agreement. "Unfortunately, the commission has become part of that problem."

In attempting to make his case, Trainor said a Facebook page titled "Elect Trump 2020" was reported by Common Cause, a left-leaning nonprofit, to the FEC based on "a poorly sourced news article" that claimed the page creator "had spent over $34,000 on shady Facebook ads," despite the person only spending $483.

Trainor said case was a "textbook example of how the process is becoming the punishment."

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