Senator Dianne Feinstein
Senate Committee on Rules & Administration
305 Russell Senate Office Building
Dear Senator Feinstein:
Common Cause urges you to reject an extraordinarily inappropriate nominee for a seat on the Federal Election Commission. Hans von Spakovsky, both in his current role as an FEC commissioner and in his former job at the Department of Justice, has demonstrated contempt for the rule of law and acted in an extreme partisan manner during his time in government.
Common Cause has worked for decades in support of a strong, independent enforcement agency for our nation's important campaign finance laws. We have been deeply disappointed in the efforts by both parties to appoint commissioners who were beholden to partisan interests rather than the public interest.
Mr. von Spakovsky's several years in government have been marked by activities that undermine the voting rights and campaign finance laws that are essential to our democratic system:
Mr. von Spakovsky has been implicated as a key player in the recent scandal involving the firing of several U.S. Attorneys. He and others in the Justice Department pushed for the ouster of at least three U.S. Attorneys primarily because they refused to prosecute voter fraud cases that had no merit or where fraud simply did not exist.
During his tenure at the U.S. Department of Justice, "Mr. von Spakovsky was central to the administration's pursuit of strategies that had the effect of suppressing the minority vote," according to Joseph Rich, a former Justice Department voting rights chief.
In 2003, Mr. von Spakovsky is reported to have played a key role in pressuring the Justice Department to approve the infamously partisan and discriminatory Texas redistricting plan over the objections of career attorneys.
While at the Justice Department, Mr. von Spakovsky again pushed to have career attorneys overruled to gain department approval of a Georgia voter ID law that the career attorneys believe would have had a negative impact on minority voters. That law was later struck down by the courts.
Even as he served as an FEC commissioner, Mr. von Spakovsky reached into another agency, the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, to pressure the commission to suppress a bipartisan report which concluded there was little evidence of voter fraud. That finding would have undercut Mr. von Spakovsky's efforts in support of laws and regulations, such as stringent voter ID laws, that have the effect of suppressing the minority vote.
Mr. von Spakovsky also reportedly pushed for the ouster of an EAC Commissioner, Paul DeGregorio, because he acted in a bipartisan manner and would not accede to von Spakovsky's extreme partisan demands. Among those demands were that DeGregorio and the EAC not object to Arizona's harsh voter ID law.
During his brief tenure on the Federal Election Commission, von Spakovsky has exhibited disdain for the nation's campaign finance laws. He continues the unfortunate tradition at the FEC of partisan appointees who are unwilling to be strong enforcers of the law.
Many Americans are troubled by the pervasive influence of money in politics and are fed up with the campaign finance scandals that regularly erupt in Congress. Indeed, according to polls, a major factor in the 2006 elections was the perception that Republicans had failed to "clean the swamp." It would be a serious mistake for this committee to repeat that failure by confirming the appointment of an official who has shown contempt for the laws that govern this nation and has acted in a partisan manner on voting rights issues that are at the core of our democracy.
We urge the committee to reject the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission.
President and CEO