FEC: Stop Fighting About The Law And Enforce It

Written by Ellie Poston, Legal Intern on June 19, 2015

Thumbnail for the Money in Politics issue bucket

In a moment described as a “new low” for an already dysfunctional agency, commissioners of the Federal Election Commission escalated their partisan bickering during a two hour public meeting on Thursday.

The Commission often appears designed for gridlock, with its six members evenly divided between Democrats and Republicans. But recently, the usual inaction and refusal to enforce already-weak campaign finance laws has turned into desperation and open hostility among the commissioners.

The Commission made news early in June when Chairwoman Ann Ravel and Commissioner Ellen Weintraub filed a petition asking the agency to respond to the Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC by clarifying the rules surrounding disclosure of corporate money in campaigns, which has seen an exponential increase since the Court’s decision.

Normally, members of the public can file petitions with the commission, which invites and then must respond to public comment. The commission votes on whether to publish each petition, but that vote often appears to be a formality.

A commissioner-filed petition however, is unprecedented.   

At a monthly public meeting, a motion to publish the petition led to controversy and, unsurprisingly, gridlock. Republican members argued that Weintraub and Ravel did not have standing to file, as they were not “persons” according to federal law. The irony was not lost on Commissioner Weintraub, who asked, “A corporation is a person, but I’m not a person?” The commissioners voted to table the decision until their next public meeting in July.

Tell the FEC that instead of stalling and political infighting, you want it to investigate the 2016 presidential “non-candidates” who are flouting campaign finance laws by raising millions through Super PACs and other political committees.

Office: Common Cause National

Issues: Money in Politics

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