Deal to revive FEC could include its first African-American member
It's been a dozen days since the Federal Election Commission lost its quorum, and subsequently its ability to perform most of its duties in enforcing campaign finance law. With only three commissioners on the job, and four required to take any action, the fall's first regularly scheduled meeting was canceled Thursday.
President Trump and the Senate have the power to restore full functionality to the FEC with relative speed, but the partisanship that's deadlocked the agency for years is clogging the process even as the 2020 campaign heats up.
Democratic senators are proposing seating one new commissioner from each party, according to the Center for Public Integrity, which reports that the consensus choice for the Democratic spot is Shana Broussard, an FEC attorney who would be the first African-American commissioner in the FEC's 44-year history.
Republicans are proposing the FEC be restocked with six new commissioners, in part because the three now on the job are all continuing to serve (as the law allows) even though their terms have expired.
President Trump two years ago offered a single nominee, Republican attorney Trey Trainor of Austin. By law no more than three FEC commissioners may be from one party. The current commissioners are the Democratic chairwoman, Ellen Weintraub, Republican Caroline Hunter and independent Steven Walther.
- FEC stalled on regulations for online political ads - The Fulcrum ›
- FEC severely limited by lack of quorum - The Fulcrum ›
A top issue on the democracy reform agenda — protecting elections against both disinformation and cyber hacking — is getting some unusual attention this week in the Democratic presidential campaign.
Amy Klobuchar, arguably at the top of the second tier of candidates given her rising support in Iowa, went to Atlanta on Monday to highlight her efforts in the Senate to enhance election security and to unveil some additional proposals.
The choice of location made sense for two reasons. She and nine other Democrats will meet in the city Wednesday night for their latest in a series of debates where the governing system's problems have so far received short shrift. And Georgia has emerged as the most prominent state where bolstering voting rights and election integrity have become a top priority of the Democratic establishment.
The latest effort to ease restrictions on voting through litigation is a challenge to Mississippi's requirement that naturalized citizens show proof of their citizenship when they register.
The lawsuit, filed Monday by the Mississippi Immigrants Rights Alliance, says the law is unconstitutional because it violates of the 14th Amendment's equal protection clause by treating one category of citizens differently from another. People born in the United States need only check a box on the state's registration form attesting they are citizens.
The Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, which helped bring the suit, says Mississippi is the only state with a unique mandate for would-be voters who were not born American citizens.