Democrat Politician Protection Act Would Yield a Partisan Takeover of the FEC
‘Democrats and their allies claim Republicans are keeping the FEC from enforcing campaign finance laws. That is their talking point for all these radical changes. But look who’s really refusing to work within the law: The Democrat chairwoman who says she’ll keep the FEC from defending itself and is threatening to disobey court orders. Democrats aren’t after an FEC that enforces the law. They want an FEC that advances their ideology.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor regarding the Democrat Politician Protection Act:
“This week, Democrats in the House are expected to pass the sweeping legislation I call the Democrat Politician Protection Act. It aims to give Washington D.C. vast new control over elections, give tax dollars to political campaigns, and give election lawyers more opportunities to determine the outcome of elections. Today I want to discuss how it would open up the bipartisan Federal Election Commission to a hostile partisan takeover.
“When Congress passed and amended the Federal Election Campaign Act after Watergate, the FEC was created as a six-member body. An even number of commissioners, no more than three can be from the same party, and at least four votes required for action. A built-in safeguard against one party seizing control of the FEC. And House Democrats want to get rid of it. Their Democrat Politician Protection Act would cut the FEC to a five-member body. Two members from each party and a nominal independent who would be handpicked by sitting presidents.
“Now, people on both sides of the aisle used to see right through these tricks. Back in 1976, Senator Alan Cranston – a California Democrat – warned about this. He said: ‘The FEC has such a potential for abuse in our democratic society that the President should not be given power over the Commission.’ As recently as two years ago, an outgoing Democrat FEC Commissioner — one of the most active and liberal regulators in the Commission’s history — said, quote, ‘I don’t have a problem with the 3-3 split at the commission… it was established that way in order to ensure that there was not going to be a partisan effort to use investigations against one political party or another.’ But now, Democrats want to scrap the neutrality and bring on the partisan takeover.
“Democrats respond by saying this fifth member would have to be affiliated with neither the Democratic nor Republican Party. They’d have to be an ‘independent.’ Give me a break. One current Commissioner is nominally an ‘independent.’ Except -- the Washington Post reports this gentlemen, quote, ‘often votes with the Democrats.’ And he happens to be a longtime friend of former Majority Leader Harry Reid. He’d actually previously worked as an election lawyer for Sen. Reid to help ensure he won a close election. In fact, Senator Reid repeatedly slipped and characterized this gentleman as a Democrat nominee several times here on the floor. This is our current ‘independent’ on the FEC.
“So I think we all know what kind of ‘independent’ fifth commissioner a Democratic President would select: One who’d join with other Democrats and champion the campaigns of the left while bringing waves of investigations, hearings, and subpoenas against their political opponents and punishing groups who dared disagree. What’s more, the Democrat Politician Protection Act would give the sitting president the chance to name the Chairperson of the FEC, abandoning the current practice of rotating chairpersons.
“And this chairperson would get broad new powers -- like the sole authority to issue subpoenas and compel testimony and the ability to hire and fire the general counsel with just two more votes from just one party. Make no mistake: The Democrats are envisioning a hostile takeover of the body that regulates political speech -- designed to tilt the playing field in their direction.
“Democrats claim this is necessary because the current structure is dysfunctional. Well, let’s look at some current dysfunction and where it’s coming from. Let’s look at the Democrat who currently serves as the FEC Chair. She’s been a commissioner for over 16 years. In fact, her term ended 11 years ago, but she’s been held-over ever since. And now, this seasoned veteran of the left’s anti-speech crusade has announced she will bar the FEC’s attorneys from defending the Commission when liberal watchdogs come after it in court.
“By unilaterally withholding her vote, she plans to make FEC essentially forfeit its legal fights against liberal groups by simply not showing up. So the defendants in these matters would be out of luck, unless they happen to have the financial means to keep up their own defense. This Democrat Commissioner has also indicated that, if this trick doesn’t produce the political outcomes she’s after, she’s willing to simply ignore subsequent court orders altogether. So House Democrats are lecturing about dysfunction at the FEC, but it is their ally who’s now using her vote to tie the FEC’s hands behind its back.
“Democrats and their allies claim Republicans are keeping the FEC from enforcing campaign finance laws. That is their talking point for all these radical changes. But look who’s really refusing to work within the law: The Democrat chairwoman who says she’ll keep the FEC from defending itself and is threatening to disobey court orders. Democrats aren’t after an FEC that enforces the law. They want an FEC that advances their ideology. These current antics prove it. And the Democrat Politician Protection Act would make it much, much worse.”
Related Issues: Campaigns & Elections