No-Show Dem FEC Official Wants Approval for Foreign-Funded Junket

(Updated) Ravel has now decided not to participate in the trip

FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel
Ann Ravel / AP
February 2, 2017

A jet-setting Democratic Federal Elections Commission official who has been absent from public meetings for nearly two months wants the commission to hold a special session just to vote on whether or not she can attend another foreign-funded trip.

Ann Ravel, the controversial Democratic commissioner who previously came under fire for wanting to regulate Internet speech and websites such as the Drudge Report, has been phoning it in from California ever since being passed up for the attorney general position in the state.

Ravel has missed the past four public meetings held by the commission dating back to Dec. 6. Instead of attending, she has called into the meetings. During one call, Ravel seemed so distant from what was being discussed that the current Democratic chair asked if she was awake.

Ravel recently asked the commission to hold a special session just to vote on a foreign-funded junket that would allow her to travel to Ecuador to observe their elections.

The trip would run from Feb. 16 to 20, according to a memorandum submitted to the FEC.

"Commissioner Ann Ravel has been invited by the National Electoral Council of the Republic of Ecuador (the 'Council') to observe Ecuador's general election that will take place on February 19, 2017," the memo states. "The dates of travel would be February 16 to 20, 2017. The Council has offered to pay for Commissioner Ravel's airfare, lodging, internal travel, and meals."

Ravel made trips last year to give a keynote address at a Stanford law symposium in California, was featured on a panel at Kenyon College in Ohio to discuss the relationship between "progress on women's issues and campaign finance," and was a guest speaker on the current state of campaign finance law at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York, among other trips.

Sean J. Wright, special counsel for Commissioner Ann Ravel, wrote to the Washington Free Beacon following publication and said that Ravel did not attend the meetings in person due to commitments out of the area.

Mr. Wright added that Ravel was asked to participate during the Ecuadorian election due to her "experience in financing political campaigns, the electoral process, and her commitment to democracy in region."

Wright said that Ravel has now decided not to participate in the trip.

The Democratic commissioner, who was first appointed to the FEC by President Barack Obama in 2013 and chaired the commission in 2015, has traveled extensively on the dime of foreign sources.

From March 16 to 19, 2016, Ravel embarked on a conference trip sponsored by the Superior Electoral Court of Brazil, according to a report filed to the Office of Government Ethics. The junket entailed a flight that cost $1,909, a hotel carrying a price tag of $262.57, and meals estimated at $50.

Five months prior, Ravel was a participant in the X Inter-American Meeting of Electoral Management Bodies hosted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. This trip, which ran from Nov. 17 to 22, 2015, featured a $584.83 flight, a $663 hotel bill, and a per diem of $256.

Ravel's jet-setting ways date back to the year that she first joined the commission.

Between October 2013 and September 2014, Ravel took five trips that spanned around the globe in addition to her travel in the United States, the Blaze previously reported.

Update 3:53 p.m.: This post has been updated to reflect comment from Sean J. Wright, special counsel for Commissioner Ann Ravel.