Democrats and Republicans must find consensus candidates for FEC

Common Cause called today on the White House and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to withdraw the controversial nomination of Hans von Spakovsky to the Federal Election Commission, and called on leaders of both political parties to come up with a consensus slate of nominees to fill four vacancies at the FEC.

The requests were made after FEC nominee Robert Lenhard, who was chosen by the Democrats, asked the White House to withdraw his nomination. With only two sitting commissioners, the FEC lacks a quorum to take any official actions in upholding campaign finance law.

“The fact that the country does not have a functional election watchdog during the most important presidential election in a generation is a national embarrassment,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar and Board Chairman Jim Leach wrote in a letter last week to Senate leaders. “It’s like playing the World Series without an umpire. Without effective enforcement, our campaign finance laws are rendered meaningless.”

Edgar and Leach called on Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and McConnell to explore possible solutions to the deadlock over nominees. Noting that the 2008 presidential election is on track to be the most expensive election in history and that the FEC is the only agency with oversight powers, Edgar and Leach wrote that the Senate has an obligation to work toward a functioning FEC.

“The failure of Congress to appoint commissioners to the FEC amounts to an obstruction of the enforcement of federal campaign finance law,” Edgar and Leach wrote. “To deny the possibility of creating a quorum capable of taking official action is an invitation to lawlessness. It is an embarrassment to a country rooted in the rule of law.”

The impasse over nominees has also prevented the FEC from issuing final rules on the disclosure of lobbyist “bundling,” which it is required to do under the Open Government and Honest Leadership Act of 2007. This provision of the ethics reform bill, passed in the wake of the lobbying scandals of the previous years, cannot be enforced until the FEC has a quorum.

Read the letters to Reid and McConnell:

In addition to the letters to Reid and McConnell, Common Cause has written to all three presidential candidates on this issue.

Click here to read the letter to all three presidential candidates about breaking the deadlock over FEC nominees.