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Government Ethics
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A 2017 investigation of FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub for potentially unethical behavior determined she had not violated federal rules.

Congressman calls for repeat ethics investigation into FEC chairwoman

This article has been updated following an interview with Weintraub.

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub has been accused of ethical violations that had been previously leveled — and dismissed — two years ago.

In a series of tweets on Thursday, Weintraub responded to a letter sent that same day by Rep. Rodney Davis, ranking member of the House Administration Committee, requesting an investigation into Weintraub for potential violations of federal ethics regulations.

"It's a retread on a complaint made two years ago by a Koch Brother-funded group," Weintraub told The Fulcrum on Friday afternoon. The inspector general's office looked into it and didn't find any evidence. It's the same stuff all over again."

Davis, a Republican from Illinois, outlined three reasons he believes FEC Inspector General Christopher Skinner should investigate Weintraub:

  1. Using government time and official FEC resources to publish her opinions on political matters.
  2. Discussing issues outside the purview of the FEC in national media appearances.
  3. Refusing to recuse herself from matters involving President Trump, despite a perceived bias against him and "apparent conflict of interest."
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Geoff Pallay

Geoff Pallay works out of his South Carolina home to be closer to his two children, including 5-year-old Cameron.

Meet the reformer: Geoff Pallay, a political encyclopedia wizard

Geoff Pallay is the editor in chief of Ballotpedia, a nonprofit and nonpartisan online political encyclopedia created a dozen years ago to provide a comprehensive chronicling of federal, state and local politics, elections, and public policy. He was hired in 2010 as a staff writer covering state legislatures and has had the top newsroom job since 2015. Originally from New Jersey, Pallay, 35, lives in Charleston, S.C., with his wife, Megan, and their two children. His answers have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

What's the tweet-length description of your organization?

We preserve and expand knowledge about politics by providing objective information about federal, state and local politics.

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"When people are unaware that convictions can seem principled while actually being blind, they are helpless in the face of the conviction machine," writes Michael Patrick Lynch.

‘Always sticking to your convictions’ sounds like a good thing – but it isn’t

Lynch is a professor of philosophy at the University of Connecticut.

There is nothing wrong with strong opinions. They are healthy in a democracy – an apathetic electorate is an ineffective electorate.

But a curious fact about American society's supercharged political culture is that even the most humble debates (think: Which fried chicken sandwiches are best?) turn a tweet into matters of conviction.

The result is that many of us come to see criticism as intolerable and disagreement with our opinions as a mark of moral inferiority.

That's a problem not just because it can lead to incivility; it's a problem because it can lead to dogmatism, and when it comes to matters like climate change or immigration, even violent fanaticism.

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Big Picture
Suhas Subramanyam and Rodney Willett

Reform-first candidates Suhas Subramanyam (left) and Rodney Willett are running in safely Democratic Virginia House districts.

Bloc of Virginia candidates pushing democracy reform as a blue wave generator

With elections for every seat in Virginia's Legislature less than four weeks away, a coalition of progressive candidates is hoping to sway voters with the promise to push democracy reform.

In a letter being sent Thursday to every member of the General Assembly, 32 Democrats vying in November — about half with a realistic hope of winning — underscored their commitment to advancing an array of campaign finance and voting rights proposals if they get elected.

"We write to you today to put Richmond on notice. We are determined to reform the broken system and spark a restoration of confidence should we be granted the honor of serving our respective districts," they wrote.

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