The Green Zone
With the FEC Inactive, the Complaints Fly
By Matthew Mosk
If the Federal Election Commission weren't paralyzed, its members would be pretty busy today.
First came the complaint filed this morning by the group Judicial Watch, alleging that the use of London's Spencer House for a fundraising luncheon by Sen. John McCain was in-kind donation to the campaign by foreign nationals, in violation of federal campaign finance laws. (The public interest group had previously at filed a similar complaint, alleging that Sir Elton John's performance at a fundraiser for Sen. Hillary Clinton was also improper, as he is a foreign national.)
Then, this afternoon, Republicans trained their aim on the Democratic National Committee, filing a complaint that alleged the party's recently released anti-McCain television commercial was composed in coordination with the two Democratic candidates for president. The complaint comes just days after one filed by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, alleging coordination between the Republican congressional committee and an ad run in Louisiana by the conservative group Freedom's Watch.
All the complaints highlight a problem that the group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is now attempting to spotlight with its new website, FixtheFEC.org.
With the Senate in a prolonged stalemate over how to proceed on President Bush's nominations to fill four vacancies on the six-member commission, the FEC has been unable to do much of anything with these and other complaints. It takes four votes of the commission to rule on complaints, but the FEC has only two members.
"In the midst of the presidential campaign season, the Federal Election Commission has been rendered ineffectual," said the CREW's executive director, Melanie Sloan, in a statement. "Incredibly, the FEC cannot address any complaints against presidential candidates or a series of public financing questions. With no one on the watch, who's to say some unscrupulous souls won't violate the law in order to gain advantage in an election? Once an election is over there is no unseating the winners, whether or not they played by the rules."
Posted at 5:26 PM ET on Apr 28, 2008
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