Federal Politics

Published — April 21, 2008 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

Zero enforcement

Without quorum, Federal Election Commission ceases oversight activity

Introduction

In a crucial election year rife with controversies and record spending, the Federal Election Commission, missing four of its six members, lacks the quorum necessary to take any action. Despite a new congressional ethics law that gave the FEC new regulatory responsibilities, the paralyzed agency has failed to provide any rulings or advisory opinions so far this year.

An analysis by the Center for Public Integrity reveals that the FEC issued an average of 36 advisory opinions and decided an average of 130 enforcement cases (“Matters Under Review” and “Alternative Dispute Resolutions”) over the past five years. Advisory opinions are “responses to questions regarding the application of federal campaign finance law to specific factual situations.” Matters Under Review (MURs) are enforcement cases the Commission attempts to resolve initially “through a confidential investigative process,” and Alternative Dispute Resolutions (ADR) constitute a series of procedures used for negotiating and resolving disputes between parties. Since the beginning of 2008, the Commission has not issued a single advisory opinion, MUR, or ADR.

Massie Ritsch, communications director at the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Center that because this will be the most expensive election in U.S. history, “we need a referee . . . to make sure everyone plays by the rules.” Even with all six commissioners in place, he noted, the FEC tends to be a “slow mover,” citing the two years it took the agency to deem behavior by 527s illegal after the 2000 election.

The Senate has not confirmed a nominee to the Commission since March 2003. Most recently, Democrats, in particular Senators Barack Obama of Illinois and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, have blocked confirmation of Hans von Spakovsky, objecting to his record on minority voting rights during his service in the Justice Department. Republicans have retaliated by insisting that the pending nominees be voted on as a group. Via recess appointments and the holdover of commissioners whose terms had expired, the Commission was able to maintain a quorum until the beginning of January 2008.

In a letter last week to White House Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid expressed frustration with the FEC’s hiatus. “The impasse which has deprived the agency of a functional quorum has taken the nation’s campaign finance watchdog off the beat,” he wrote. “It has prevented the full implementation of the far-reaching ethics bill enacted by Congress. This situation cannot stand.”

Calls to the office of Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell were not returned.

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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.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Martin Shellabarger
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J. Stevenson, what are you drinking? Trump has more lobbyists in his administration than probably any other president. Trump is totally “for sale”, and the corporations know it. Grow a brain!

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.