Federal Politics

Published — January 19, 2017 Updated — Today at 5:02 am EST

With morale in tatters, Federal Election Commission eyes changes

New ‘ombudsman’ office, better staff training among agency chairman’s proposals

Introduction

Federal Election Commission leaders — dogged by abysmal staff morale and a top manager improperly obtaining employees’ confidential critiques — are considering changes to how the agency operates in a bid to restore staff trust.

Chief among them: the creation of a new “ombudsman” office dedicated to investigating and resolving staff complaints and internal conflicts, according to an internal proposal written by the agency’s chairman and obtained by the Center for Public Integrity.

As written, the proposal further calls for formal, anonymous reviews of agency managers by subordinates, as well as better manager training.

Staff Director Alec Palmer would also be required to file quarterly reports with the agency’s six commissioners detailing, among other things, “the status and success of efforts made to establish and maintain high morale among agency staff.”

Many staffers are still reeling from an incident last year in which FEC Inspector General Lynn McFarland said a top manager — identified as Chief Compliance Officer and Deputy Staff Director Patricia Orrock — duped her into releasing hundreds of confidential employee surveys critical of agency leaders.

FEC Chairman Steven Walther, a Democratic appointee who identifies as an independent, acknowledged being the primary author of the four-page proposal, entitled “staff rights and management responsibilities.”

Walther stressed that the proposal is not yet finalized and is still being circulated among FEC staffers for input. He wouldn’t predict when the full commission would vote on a final proposal for the roughly 350-employee agency that enforces the nation’s campaign finance laws.

“The goal is to restore some trust and not just walk away,” said Walther, who along with Republican Commissioner Matthew Petersen has conducted more than 12 hours of meetings with rank-and-file employees to calm nerves and solicit input. Walther added that he hopes to make a more finalized version of his proposal public “very soon.”

Added Commissioner Ann Ravel, a Democrat: “There isn’t any question in my mind that something needs to happen. We had actions that constituted a breach of trust, and it’s really important that we take this, and morale in general, seriously.”

Neither Petersen nor fellow Republican commissioners — Vice Chairwoman Caroline Hunter and Lee Goodman — responded to requests for comment. Nor did Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub.

Palmer, the staff director, also did not return requests for comment. But in a Dec. 19 email to FEC commissioners and other top staffers, Palmer listed several efforts his management team has undertaken to address morale concerns.

Palmer also praised the embattled Orrock for “her outstanding leadership within the compliance division” and reported witnessing “overwhelming joy and happiness” among FEC compliance division staff as they gathered during a December holiday party.

Tony Reardon, president of the National Treasury Employees Union, which represents FEC employees, said FEC leaders must “be prepared to arrive at a concrete plan to improve employee morale.”

Reardon added that FEC leaders are including union representatives in their deliberations. “There is a lot of work to be done at the FEC, but the conversations we are having now are the right first step,” he said.

The FEC’s Office of the General Counsel is also making changes in this year to “address areas of concern” and foster “growth and improvement,” according to a separate letter written earlier this month by Acting General Counsel Lisa Stevenson to her staff.

Changes in this office, which houses more than one in three FEC employees, include:

  • More rigorous reviews of, and enhanced training for, the law department’s managers
  • Enhanced training opportunities for the office’s rank-and-file lawyers
  • Increased pursuit of minority job candidates
  • Creating a system for employees to anonymously submit complaints and suggestions directly to Stevenson

“I assure you that OGC Management doesn’t see improving morale as a one-off, ‘check-the-box’ project,” Stevenson wrote. “We’re committed to investing the resources and effort needed to make lasting changes.”

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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.