FEC should be fully functioning as soon as possible

A top priority for the President and the U.S. Senate in this new year must be to ensure that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is functioning as the enforcement body for our nation’s campaign finance laws. While Congress has a long record of undermining strong enforcement of those laws, it is particularly shameful that the agency has been left powerless at the outset of this election year.

Late last year, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) blocked a vote on the pending nominations of three FEC commissioners. Apparently, he was concerned that one controversial nominee, Hans von Spakovsky, would be defeated.

Common Cause and a coalition of civil rights groups strongly opposed the nomination of von Spakovsky, who was an extraordinarily inappropriate nominee for a seat on the FEC. Mr. von Spakovsky’s several years in government have been marked by activities that undermined the voting rights and campaign finance laws that are essential to our democratic system.

We urge President Bush to withdraw von Spakovsky’s nomination and to work expeditiously with Senator McConnell to propose a nominee who has demonstrated respect for the important enforcement responsibilities of the FEC. As we enter a presidential election year, with campaigns already well underway, it is critical that the FEC be fully functioning as soon as possible.

Common Cause has worked for decades in support of a strong, independent enforcement agency for our nation’s important campaign finance laws. “The current crisis for the agency is an opportunity to transform the FEC and make it a proud model for enforcement of campaign finance laws,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. “We urge the President and Congress to work with us and other reform groups to pass FEC reform legislation.”

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