Senate must create an FEC that upholds the nation’s campaign finance laws

Common Cause urged the Senate committee considering the nominations of three candidates to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to create a body that puts upholding the nation’s campaign finance laws above party loyalty.

“It is time to rethink how we enforce our campaign finance laws,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar said in a letter to the Rules Committee. “Congress should model the FEC after more effective law enforcement agencies that are headed by a single administrator who is appointed for a fixed term by the President and confirmed by the Senate. We believe this would avoid the politicization of the FEC that has prevented it from being an effective agency.”

The six-member FEC has been unable to function this year because it has four vacancies, even as the presidential campaigns raise and spend record amounts of money. The Senate was in a standoff over nominee Hans von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department lawyer with a record of extreme partisanship and known efforts around voting suppression. He withdrew his nomination last week.

While thanking the leadership of the Rules Committee for moving quickly to consider additional FEC nominees after von Spakovsky backed out, Edgar also expressed concern with one of the nominees, Donald F. McGhan. McGhan served as counsel on matters of ethics and campaign finance to former House Majority Leader Tom Delay (R-TX), who was indicted on campaign finance violations by the U.S. Attorney’s office in Texas and was admonished repeatedly by the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, Edgar noted.

“As you review these candidates for seats on the FEC, I ask that you also consider the larger mission of the agency. The hearings you are holding today come mid-way through a Presidential election year because of the political standoff in the Senate over nominees. This is just a recent example of the politicization of the process for appointing FEC commissioners, and it has been a problem for years. The situation has been allowed to continue for so long only because it is not obvious to the public. If the Federal Bureau of Investigation were as bad at enforcing other areas of the law that are more publicly visible, Congress would certainly respond,” Edgar wrote.

Click here to read the full letter.