News. Debate. Community. Levers for a better democracy.
The State of Reform
Download Unite America’s free report
Download Unite America's free report analyzing the impact of four key political reforms.
Caroline Brehman/Getty Images

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.

Keep reading... Show less
Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Employees at the dormant FEC say one of the three vacancies, at least, should be filled with only the second non-white commissioner ever.

Staff wants more people of color named to the FEC

In its 45-year history, the Federal Election Commission has had 31 commissioners — all but one of them white.

"Such homogenous senior leadership is not reflective of the diverse nation the FEC serves, and it is detrimental to the morale and effectiveness of the agency," more than five dozen agency staff members said in a letter Monday urging President Trump and Senate leaders to fix the problem.

They asked Trump to nominate and the Senate to confirm at least one person of color for the three vacancies on the commission, which has been essentially shut down for the past eight weeks for lack of a four-member quorum. That seems highly unlikely before the election, not only because partisan politics are intensified during the campaign but also because senators will be in town for only a few weeks before November.

Keep reading... Show less
krisanapong detraphiphat/Getty Images

Campaign finance loophole allows for foreign election interference, report finds

Businesses that finance super PACs could be exploited by foreigners who want to secretly and illegally spend millions to influence American elections, a campaign finance advocacy group warned Wednesday.

So long as they disclose their donors, super PACs are allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts in support or opposition of candidates for president and Congress. But these donations too often come from opaque shell companies, Issue One said in a new study, obscuring the true source of the money and opening campaigns to even more interference by overseas adversaries.

A bipartisan nonprofit that advocates for a broad democracy reform agenda, Issue One says the remedy is more regulation of these shell companies. (The group operates but has no journalistic say over The Fulcrum.)

Keep reading... Show less
Samuel Corum/Getty Images

A watchdog group alleges an effort to hide payments to presidential daughter-in-law Lara Trump and former campaign manager Brad Parscale, among others.

Sweeping complaint about Trump campaign spending heads to FEC black hole

The Trump campaign is vowing to fight a complaint from a watchdog group alleging an unusually bold and broad violation of campaign finance law. But it might not have to fight too hard, because the matter is now before an essentially shuttered Federal Election Commission.

The allegation formally lodged Tuesday by the Campaign Legal Center, which advocates for tighter money-in-politics rules, is that President Trump's reelection operation paid almost $170 million to companies affiliated with one-time campaign manager Brad Parscale and other campaign operatives — but did not disclose the intended recipients of the money, as the law requires.

While efforts to obfuscate campaign spending details are not uncommon, as candidates from both parties clamor for every tactical advantage, what the CLC described in its complaint as "laundering the funds" by Trump's team seems unprecedented in size and scope.

Keep reading... Show less
© Issue One. All rights reserved.