The Hill: Campaign watchdog to ‘grind to a halt’ after top-level resignation
The Hill: Campaign watchdog to 'grind to a halt' after top-level resignation
America’s elections cop will be stuck on the sidelines for what could be months, unable to complete investigations, mete out punishments or even give candidates advice about what is and isn’t legal, just as the 2020 election season gets underway.
Federal Election Commission (FEC) vice chairman Matthew Petersen said Monday he will resign effective Friday. His departure will leave the FEC with only three commissioners out of six seats — one shy of a quorum.
Without at least four commissioners, the FEC will be unable to take action on its core mission, enforcing campaign laws.
The FEC “will now pretty much grind to a halt,” said Paul S. Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation at Common Cause. “This is a big deal that the FEC is now going to be without a quorum.” …
What may be of more consequence is an inability to offer advisory opinions, legally binding policy statements that offer candidates or political committees clarity on what is and is not permitted under law. Ryan said those opinions offer candidates and committees legal cover in what can be a murky area of the law.
“One of the most important things the Federal Election Commission does is provide clarity on how the law applies to particular candidates or political committees or individuals who wish to engage in conduct they may be uncertain about,” Ryan said. “The FEC has power to give candidates or committees a shield against future enforcement activities.”