Hitting the restart button on the Federal Election Commission during this campaign season is not the answer to better enforcement of the rules regulating money in politics, a coalition of good-government groups says.
Twenty-one such organizations declared their disagreement Monday with a proposal from a bipartisan collection of 31 prominent campaign finance lawyers. Last week the lawyers asked President Trump and the leaders of Congress to come up with an entirely new slate at the FEC to oversee campaign donations and spending in this year's presidential and congressional races.
Since the law allows half the commissioners to favor broad deregulation, because they're Republicans, lax enforcement and gridlock would be the end result of such an overhaul, the reform groups argued. Instead, they called for the confirmation of one or two new commissioners to create a quorum permitting at least minimal oversight through November.
A bipartisan group of campaign finance lawyers is calling on President Trump and congressional leaders to give the Federal Election Commission a totally fresh start before the 2020 election season shifts into high gear.
For the past 128 days, the agency has been effectively sidelined due to a lack of quorum. With only three of the commission's six seats occupied — all by people who have agreed to stay on although their terms expired years ago — the FEC has not been able to carry out any of its responsibilities for enforcing the laws regulating money in presidential and congressional elections.
The lawyers sent a letter on Monday urging the White House, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy to negotiate a deal for a totally new roster of six commissioners.
More voters see "corruption in our political system" as the country's most pressing problem than any of the other issues getting greater attention in the 2020 campaign, new polling shows.
The online survey conducted in September asked voters whether seven different issues were an "extremely serious problem" for the country, and the only one where a majority said yes was political corruption; rising health care costs came in second at 49 percent.
The poll is only the latest to declare the electorate's dire concern about the broken political system. In just the last month, two-thirds of voters told one poll they believe the country is on the "edge of a civil war" and a plurality in another poll identified the government itself as the country's biggest problem.
But the topic of democracy reform is getting hardly any mention in the presidential race. Though most of the Democratic candidates have plans for limiting money in politics, making voting easier, securing elections and restoring the balance of powers, few have emphasized these ideas on the trail. And President Trump, who four years ago ran as the candidate most interested in "draining the swamp," rarely mentions this aspiration anymore.
The Kentucky Republican Party is alleging campaign finance wrongdoing by a radio host considering a longshot bid for Mitch McConnell's Senate seat. But the complaint won't ever get answered without the help of the Senate majority leader himself.
That's because the case has been filed with the Federal Election Commission, which is now into its third month without the minimum membership necessary to begin even the most routine enforcement proceedings. And the reason for that is Kentucky's own McConnell. In his view the FEC that regulates best is the one that regulates least, and so he's bottled up the nomination that would give the agency a four-person quorum.