The Federal Election Commission (FEC) on Thursday rejected a proposal to address foreign influence in United States election spending, the third time the commission has shot down similar proposals since reports of Russian interference in the 2016 election began emerging about two years ago.
The motion, which was proposed by Vice Chair Ellen Weintraub, would have begun the process of potentially implementing new FEC rules intended to discourage foreign spending in US elections. Among those possible new rules was a requirement that super PACs and other groups state they did not use money from foreign sources in US elections.
The FEC’s two Republican commissioners voted against the proposal, citing a reluctance to move forward with the motion until more information about foreign election interference is released.
Foreign spending in elections is illegal, but Weintraub expressed concern about the possibility of foreign groups using dark money to tip the scales in the 2018 midterms. She urged the commission to vote for the rulemaking before the November elections.
“We are receiving information from a variety of public and private sources that indicate that we should be seriously concerned about people trying to influence the elections in 2018, and spending serious money to do it,” Weintraub said.
Thursday’s FEC vote came about a week after leaders of the bipartisan Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, which is investigating international meddling in the 2016 elections, released a statement addressing Russian interference. Sen. Richard Burr (R-N.C.), who chairs the committee, said he had “no doubt” Russia made efforts to influence the 2016 races.
Weintraub said she wanted to propose the rulemaking again because of the Senate committee’s bipartisan agreement that Russia meddled in the 2016 election.
Commissioners deadlocked on the proposal across party lines. Weintraub and Commissioner Steven Walther, both Democrats, voted in favor of the rulemaking, while FEC Chair Caroline…