Federal Politics

Published — December 17, 2013 Updated — May 13, 2014 at 3:10 pm ET

Incoming FEC bosses pledge to work together following blistering Center report

Commission to ask Congress for perimission to accept gifts to upgrade technology

Introduction

The newly elected chairman and vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission pledged to work together to tackle a host of agency problems detailed today by the Center for Public Integrity in an investigative report.

Both Lee Goodman, a Republican who becomes chairman in 2014, and Ann Ravel, a Democrat and incoming vice chairman, say fixing the bipartisan agency’s information technology systems is a top priority.

They vowed to hire new IT security specialists during the next two months. Agency funds will also be diverted to bolster internal system security. A long-term plan to enhance public portions of its digital offerings will also be completed in 2014, they said.

In addition, at a meeting Tuesday morning, commissioners voted unanimously to formally ask Congress for permission to accept “gifts that will assist the commission in carrying out its functions,” particularly those that would help update the agency’s technology.

“Gifts” would likely come in the form of donated help from “individuals or organizations that support the agencies’ mission of enhancing transparency,” the commissioners wrote in a memorandum they plan to send to President Barack Obama and Congress.

“This is something we’re in total agreement on,” Ravel said.

“We can do better,” Goodman said.

Current Chairman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, added that she expected “some” of the FEC’s IT problems to be solved by February following what she described as “a challenging year to lead the agency.”

Chinese hackers waylaid the FEC’s servers in October just as the federal government shut down over a budget impasse. Its website, which makes public the agency’s millions of political candidate and committee campaign finance records, went dark for several days and operated at partial capacity for the government shutdown’s duration.

Even during the more placid times, the agency’s website is widely regarded by the public and commissioners alike as obsolete, where simple searches for enforcement cases or campaign vendors are difficult, if not impossible. IT matters are just one aspect of multiple agency problems, which include understaffing, poor morale and partisan gridlock.

But FEC commissioners ended 2013 on a conciliatory note.

At the agency’s final meeting of the year, Ravel nominated Goodman for the chairmanship, which traditionally rotates between Democratic and Republican appointees every year. Republican commissioner Caroline Hunter nominated Ravel for the vice chairmanship.

Both votes were unanimous and the nominators spoke glowingly of their colleagues — a departure from the sometimes bitter and decidedly public sniping between Weintraub and former Vice Chairman Don McGahn, who resigned in September.

The commission also unanimously approved several other legislative recommendations it will send to a president and Congress that have largely ignored the FEC’s previous requests.

On this year’s FEC wish list:

  • Require senators to file campaign finance reports electronically.
  • Require committees that make electioneering communications to file electronic reports.
  • Ban all political committees — including congressional leadership PACs — from using funds for personal needs.
  • Make permanent an “administrative fine” program to more efficiently punish low-level campaign finance reporting violations.
  • Increase and index for inflation the minimum amount committees must spend to report activity to the FEC. Currently, committees that spend $1,000 or more during a calendar year must register with federal regulators. The FEC did not recommend a specific dollar amount.
  • Create senior executive service positions within the agency, which commissioners say would help in “recruiting and retaining key management personnel.”
  • Strengthen laws to punish people who falsely represent themselves as working on behalf of a campaign or political party.

The commission failed to approve a recommendation to make all political action committees and super PACs report their financial activity quarterly — not semi-annually, as many do — during non-election years.

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.