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Public Financing at Stake in Senate FEC Battle

There's a stalemate in the U.S. senate over the confirmation of one of President Bush's appointees to the Federal Election Commission, and while that might seem like a pretty inside-the-Beltway problem, there are several presidential candidates who should probably take notice.

As the Post reported this morning, if the Senate fails to broker a deal on four of Bush's FEC nominees before adjourning in December, the FEC will on Jan. 1 be left without a functioning board. (The six-member commission needs at least four commissioners to take any action. If the confirmations don't occur, it will be left with only two members.) According to former FEC chairman Bradley Smith, that means, among other things, that the FEC will be unable to certify any candidate for public financing.

Smith writes in his blog this morning that an impending FEC shutdown would "make it impossible for the FEC to vote to release the federal tax dollars" that several, including former Sen. John Edwards, Rep. Tom Tancredo and potentially Sen. John McCain, will be counting on to subsidize their presidential bids.

McCain has not to date been a party to negotiations between senate leaders over the unresolved FEC confirmations. With the prospect of an FEC shutdown limiting his access to matching funds though, it seems likely that could change.

--Matthew Mosk

By Washington Post editors  |  October 26, 2007; 10:03 AM ET
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