Bloomberg News shocked the journalism world over the weekend after announcing it would not investigate Michael Bloomberg's presidential campaign, but would continue to investigate President Donald Trump. Critics accused the organization, which claims to be independent, of being nothing more than a propaganda outlet.
Now, Bloomberg News could face legal backlash, according to former FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky.
Spakovsky told the Daily Caller News Foundation that Bloomberg News' editorial directive "raises concerns under federal campaign finance law," citing, specifically, an FEC provision mandating news outlets owned by political candidates to give "reasonably equal coverage to all opposing candidates."
The problem with what Bloomberg [News] has announced is that they are not going to be giving equal coverage to all opposing candidates.They're only going to be covering one opposing candidate, and that's Donald Trump… if they're not willing to do any negative stories that might come up about Mike, whereas they are about Trump, then they're directly helping his campaign.
I think if a complaint were to be filed with the FEC, where I served for two years, there would be serious questions raised whether this policy violates this particular provision of the FEC.
However, not all election law experts agree with Spakovsky's assessment.
Former FEC Chairman Bradley Smith explained to the Daily Caller News Foundation that the determining factor in whether Bloomberg News' coverage policy violates FEC rules hinges on whether or not Trump is, at this stage of the campaign, one of Bloomberg's opponents.
"A good argument nonetheless could be made that the press exemption should not apply here, given Bloomberg's own declaration, 'I'm running for president to defeat Donald Trump and rebuild America,'" Smith told the news outlet.
The FEC is currently unable to take any official actions because it has only three active commissioners on its six-member board, rendering the agency incapable of meeting its four-member quorum.