Why the FEC Must Be Reformed to Strengthen Our Democracy

Commissioners sit behind a large desk and listen to a man and a woman sitting at a smaller desk in front of them
A public hearing at the Federal Election Commission. Photo by Casey Atkins/Campaign Legal Center.

The power of special interest money in our politics threatens our First Amendment right to have our voices heard. It is not only drowning out the voices of everyday Americans, it is also impacting voter confidence and trust in government and elected officials — the foundations of a healthy democracy.

Voters overwhelming believe that our campaign finance system is broken and in need of major changes. One of those changes is reform of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), the only federal agency dedicated to overseeing the integrity our elections.

A bipartisan survey commissioned by Campaign Legal Center (CLC), found that 71% of voters across party lines want the FEC to take a more active role in enforcing campaign finance laws.

The failure of the FEC to enforce campaign finance laws has resulted in an explosion of secret spending, and our politics are increasingly rigged in favor of special interests.

The FEC was enacted after the Watergate scandal in 1974 to enforce campaign finance laws after the passage of the Federal Election Commission Act (FECA). The agency was created to have six commissioners. It takes the vote of four of those commissioners to write new rules or take action on an enforcement matter.

To reduce political corruption, we need a stronger FEC to enforce campaign finance laws and hold candidates and their donors accountable.

Kim is CLC's Director, Communications.