Hurray! FEC Up and Running
The government’s inability to police money in political campaigns is over, NOW. Yesterday the Senate approved the nominations of five commissioners to the Federal Election Commission. They will join current Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub in providing the FEC its full complement of six commissioners.
The commission has been dormant since December, leading to much hand-wringing abut how we can’t not have the FEC during an election year. It’s certainly a legitimate gripe, but the FEC– with three Republican and three Democratic commissioners– can’t really be counted on to make any tough decisions that transcend party lines.
The commission will likely punt on whether Sen. John McCain violated campaign finance laws by using the promise of public money as collateral for a loan until after the election. Former Republican FEC Chairman David Mason had questioned the legality of the maneuver. The Bush administration later withdrew Mason’s nomination.
Nonetheless, the FEC could be important between now and November. The commission is expected to write rules that force lawmakers to disclose which lobbyists are bundling donations for their campaign. And the commission will continue to provide useful disclosures about the presidential candidate’s fundraising. Just don’t expect them to regulate that fundraising.