Ethics Watchdog Calls for FEC Probe of LLC, News for Democracy
Updated: Mar 19, 2019
FACT Says Secretive New Firm Failed to Register with FEC Despite Spending Millions on Facebook Ads; No Website, No Contact Page or Email Address
The non-partisan ethics watchdog group, the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT) has asked the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for an immediate investigation into News for Democracy LLC for failing to register with the FEC and file routine reports despite spending between $1.2 million and $4.6 million on federal elections this cycle.
“There is no doubt News for Democracy and its operators are in flagrant violation of federal law,” said Kendra Arnold, Executive Director, Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust (FACT). “An organization simply cannot spend millions of dollars to influence elections without registering with the FEC and disclosing sources and amounts of its contributions and spending. An investigation is needed immediately.”
According to FACT’s complaint, News for Democracy has (1) failed to register as a political committee despite having been formed in August 2018, (2) failed to disclose any information about its political activities with the FEC including sources and amounts of its contributions and spending.
FACT points to the following section of election law:
“11 CFR section 101.2(d) plainly requires political committees to file a Statement of Organization (Form 1) within 10 days of becoming a political committee. According to the U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, “any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions aggregating in excess of $1,000 or which makes expenditures aggregating in excess of $1,000 during a calendar year is a political committee.”
Who is News for Democracy?
News for Democracy is a secretive organization that has spent millions of dollars on political advertising on Facebook. As press reports have shown, News for Democracy has become a major player in the online political-ad market on par with any other organization in the country, including all super PACs, candidates, and other known political entities. In fact, for a two-week period in September, News for Democracy was the second-largest political ad buyer on Facebook, second only to Beto O’Rourke’s Texas Senate campaign.
Furthermore, despite being one of the most influential organizations in political advertising, the organization has no website, contact page, or email address. While only the operators of News for Democracy know how long it has operated, incorporation records filed by the law firm Tierney Lawrence make clear that News for Democracy has been in existence since at least August, just in time to influence the midterm elections.
Lastly, given the secrecy of the contributors funding News for Democracy LLC and the current political landscape, it is essential the FEC ensure that foreign nationals have not been influencing our elections through this organization.
FACT is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting accountability, ethics, and transparency in government and civic arenas. For more on FACT, visit: http://www.factdc.org/.