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The test case for citizens' ability to sue, when the Federal Election Commission does not act, involves a group working for the re-election of GOP Sen. Joni Ernst of Iowa.

Enforcing money-in-politics rules is about to be left to you and me

Here's how far the Federal Election Commission has sunk in failing to carry out its job of overseeing the rules of presidential and congressional campaign finance.

Barring a highly unlikely turn of events, a sort of line of shame will be crossed in three months: For the first time, responsibility for enforcing the laws regulating money in federal politics will essentially pass to the citizenry, sidelining the agency created to do the work.

The FEC has not had enough commissioners to do any substantive business for almost all the past year, a consequence of the partisan deadlock over campaign finance regulation. Odds are scant any new members will be confirmed until after January's inauguration. And right around then, a dispute will have been gathering dust for so long at the FEC that the case can be moved to federal court.

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How Pay-To-Play Politics Impacts Maine Businesses

Organizer: American Promise

Government is increasingly picking economic winners and losers. Businesses compete by buying influence in Washington instead of offering better products and services to consumers. The Stand with Maine campaign is working towards constitutional reform to fix the incentives currently governing how businesses are forced to make decisions. With less money in politics, more Maine businesses can thrive.

Kerem Durdag, CEO of Great Works Internet, will join us and speak about how Maine businesses suffer when there is unlimited money in politics. The conversation will be moderated by Roger Katz, Republican former state Senator and mayor of Augusta. You'll hear about the problem, but also how to be part of the solution. With the election fast approaching, there's never been a better time to learn more about this campaign.

Location: Webinar

Institute for Free Speech

David Keating is the president of the Institute for Free Speech.

Meet the reformer: David Keating, leader for the right on money in politics

Closing in on nine years as president of the Institute for Free Speech, David Keating long ago cemented his status as one of the foremost conservative forces in the money-in-politics debate. The nonprofit's aim is to safeguard First Amendment rights, particularly unfettered political speech, and views deregulation of campaign finance as central to that goal. Keating took charge after a similar group he started, SpeechNow.org, won a federal lawsuit to end donation and spending limits on independent political groups — thus creating super PACs. He had top posts at two prominent fiscal conservative organizations, the Club for Growth and the National Taxpayers Union, earlier in a D.C. advocacy career dating to the 1980s. His answers have been edited for length and clarity.

What's democracy's biggest challenge, in 10 words or less?

Stopping government from discouraging dissent.

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FEC Chairman Trey Trainor said the separation of church and state is a "fallacy."

Trump's FEC member says this election is a 'spiritual war'

The nation's newest campaign finance regulator is inserting himself into the never-ending debate about separating church and state, and causing a stir by accusing Roman Catholic bishops of hiding behind their church's nonprofit status to avoid endorsing candidates.

Trey Trainor, a Catholic who was confirmed for a long-vacant seat on the Federal Election Commission in May, also said in an interview with the conservative website Church Militant released on Wednesday (and a followup interview with the Religion News Service) that separation of church and state is a "fallacy" and that this year's election amounts to a "spiritual war."

None of these comments would appear to have any bearing on Trainor's role overseeing the federal rules that govern the flow of money into politics, but they quickly attracted criticism.

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