FEC: Watchdog Groups Challenge Illegitimate Attempt by Republican FEC Commissioners to Sabotage Campaign Finance Enforcement by Federal Agencies


Today, the Campaign Legal Center joined Democracy 21 and Americans for Campaign Reform in voicing strong objections to changes to the Federal Election Commission’s Enforcement Manual that have been proposed by Commissioners McGahn, Hunter and Petersen. The groups also object to the possibility that these significant changes to the agency’s Enforcement Manual will be made by a partisan majority vote at a time when there is less than a full complement of six Commissioners on the agency, with Republican Commissioners presently outnumbering Democratic Commissioners 3-to-2. Such a vote would be entirely unnecessary in inappropriate, particularly in light of Commissioner nominations presently pending confirmation in the Senate.

The changes would stop the longstanding free exchange of information between FEC professional staff and the Department of Justice, United States Attorneys and other federal agencies, thus hindering enforcement of federal campaign finance laws. Internally, the proposal would remove the ability of the agency’s dedicated professional staff to consider publicly available information in its investigations without a vote of approval from the Commission, effectively giving investigative veto power to the three Republican Commissioners who have repeatedly refused to enforce current campaign finance laws.

“The Commissioners proposing these changes have repeatedly blocked FEC enforcement of the laws on the books. This proposal would further undermine the efforts of the FEC’s professional staff as well as other federal agencies to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws,” said Legal Center Senior Counsel Paul S. Ryan. “The current Republican Commissioners have gone to unprecedented lengths to stymie effective enforcement of our campaign finance laws. This latest attempt to hamstring campaign finance law enforcement—a parting shot by an outgoing Commissioner serving an expired term—is bad public policy and must be stopped.”

Currently all five sitting commissioners are serving expired terms.

To read the full letter, click here.