You are hereRAW Story: Exclusive: FEC inaction on enforcing election laws rises more than 600 percent

RAW Story: Exclusive: FEC inaction on enforcing election laws rises more than 600 percent

Little-noticed Republican appointee has encouraged deadlock

April 1, 2010- After GOP lawyer Caroline Hunter helped lead the national Election Assistance Commission, a propitious series of events allowed her swift confirmation to the Federal Election Commission.

The result, along with FEC appointments of her two Republican colleagues, has been a staggering decrease in the commission's ability to enforce campaign finance law.

A new statistical analysis shows that the number of FEC enforcement decisions that ended up in deadlocked votes -- three-three ties on the six-member bipartisan commission -- soared more than 600 percent in 2009

With von Spakovsky out, Hunter quietly slips in

By the time Hunter was nominated to the Federal Election Commission in May 2008, President Bush's nomination of Republican Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky had already been stalled in the Senate for nearly two-and-a-half years. Teamed up with government watchdog groups and former Justice Department colleagues, Democrats fought fiercely to prevent his confirmation.

In January 2006, while Congress was out of session, Bush had given von Spakovsky a one-year recess appointment to the FEC, circumventing a Senate confirmation hearing.

During the long fight over von Spakovsky's nomination, the nomination process for other prospective commissioners had stalled as well. By the time von Spakovsky finally withdrew his nomination in May 2008, the FEC was down to only two members with the election year already in full swing. It had not been fully functional for several months.

The Federal Election Commission is supposed to consist of three Democrats and three Republicans. By law, the commission requires at least four affirmative votes on a decision for the commission to take action on issues, including enforcement and regulation.

Once von Spakovsky withdrew, Democratic and Republican Senate leadership worked toward solidifying a package deal of nominees from both parties. Their selections would then be confirmed uncontested.

Hunter was one of those nominees.

At the time, Roll Call reporter Matthew Murray wrote, "Hunter, whose proposed nomination would expire in 2013, is a seasoned -- and fully vetted -- GOP insider who has worked in the current Bush White House and as a lawyer at the Republican National Committee."

It turned out, however, that Hunter's selection largely escaped notice.

With all the focus on preventing von Spakovsky's confirmation, Hunter's ascension to the FEC evaded scrutiny even by some of the staunchest of von Spakovsky's opponents.




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