FEC Dem blocks pro-Trump GOP candidate’s business ads, free speech, ‘lifeblood’ threatened

In a move that could have a far-reaching impact on small business people running for federal office, the Democratic chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission has blocked a House GOP candidate from running ads for her real estate firm, cutting it off “from its lifeblood income.”

Federal Election Commission Chairwoman Ellen L. Weintraub was the holdout against allowing Republican Leigh Brown, running in the special North Carolina House District 9 race, from continuing to air radio ads for her real estate firm Leigh Brown and Associates of Charlotte during the primary race.

Brown is one of 10 GOP candidates running for the seat that opened when a new election was ordered amid concerns about voting irregularities.

She has filed an emergency lawsuit to set aside the commission’s vote that blocked a 13-year practice of airing ads for her real estate firm because they might be seen as promoting her candidacy. The ads were ordered to be stopped last weekend. The primary vote is May 14.

“Leigh Brown & Associates is presently stymied in its ability to advertise commercially and thus is cut off from its lifeblood income,” said the suit. It said that 10% of her firm’s revenue comes from clients responding to the ads. The commission doesn't comment on litigation.

Weintraub was a lone vote against Brown’s offer to change the wording of her business ads, taped by a firm different from her political media company. She refused to allow Brown to continue to read the ads, claiming that listeners would know it is her and tie it to her House campaign.

“If it were somebody else's voice it would solve the problem for me,” said Weintraub.

Brown’s lawyers went to the commission in advance to ask if the business ads were OK, explaining that those ads are much different than her Leigh Brown for Congress political ads and do not promote her candidacy.

One of the key votes was 3-1 to let Brown adjust and air her ads, but the commission's rules require four votes to OK an advisory opinion. That can be difficult because the commission is down to four members from the regular six.

Brown’s lawyers said that in addition to hurting her company with the ad ban, her First Amendment rights were being curbed.

Federal Election Commission Democrats, including Weintraub, have in the past targeted conservative voices, such as the Drudge Report and other media.

In an interview, Brown, who supports President Trump, said she was being blocked by Washington’s “swamp” and its anti-Trump attitude.

“It’s swamp activity,” she said, adding, “I’m being targeted because I’m a Republican woman and I’m a Republican woman because the progressive left wants to act like all women must punch the ‘woman card’ in lockstep with one another on progressive left issues and hate men, not shave their legs and not live a traditional conservative life.”

She also said that the decision is a threat to other small business people and could scare some away from running for office.

“I’m not going to be the last outsider to run for office. There is obviously a growing movement in the country following in the footsteps of our president who didn’t have elective office under his belt either,” she said.

“I think that small business owners shouldn’t be disproportionately hurt,” she added.

Read the full article at the Washington Examiner.