Republican commissioners who don’t want to enforce campaign finance law have made Federal Election Commission a useless agency, according to the advocacy group Public Citizen.
Adding fuel to the fire, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released a report on Thursday that claims the Republican commissioners have been coordinating with Republican lawyers and outside groups to thwart election laws.
“We’ve always known the FEC was an incredibly dysfunctional agency, but this new information uncovered by CREW shows how incestuous the relationship between the Republican commissioners and outside activists really is,” said CREW Chief Counsel Anne Weismann. “This only further proves that fundamental structural reform is needed at the FEC.”
Public Citizen noted that partisan deadlock since 2008 had prevented the six member agency from enforcing the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and performing other essential duties.
“The FEC is broken,” said Craig Holman, government affairs lobbyist with Public Citizen. “The Republican bloc of commissioners – selected for the FEC by Sen. Mitch McConnell to stymie enforcement of our campaign finance laws – have done precisely that. Partisan deadlock is paralyzing the agency. President Obama needs to step in and appoint new commissioners who will take their charge of enforcing the law seriously and responsibly.”
From 2003 to 2007, there were a total of 39 split votes on enforcement actions, according to a report (PDF) by the group.
But from 2008 to 2010, the number of split votes jumped up to 70, even though the total number of votes was drastically less. The deadlocked votes led to dismissed complaints.
Historically, the agency deadlocked on fewer than 2 percent of its enforcement actions.
The FEC is also pursuing far fewer audits of the financial activity of candidates and committees than it had done so previously. The number of audits dropped from 242 between 2004 to 2007 to just 84 between 2008 to 2010.
Five of the commissioners terms have expired, but they continue to serve on the commission.