Andrew Kerr on January 6, 2020
A bipartisan group of campaign finance lawyers sent a letter to President Donald Trump and congressional leaders of both parties Monday urging the nomination and confirmation of a new slate of commissioners to the Federal Election Commission.
The lawyers lamented the “untenable situation” the FEC has been in since Republican Matthew Petersen departed from the commission at the end of August, which left the agency with three active commissioners on its six-member board and rendered it unable to take any official actions to enforce the law.
“The FEC should be comprised of six Commissioners, but now has only three, all of whom are holdover members whose terms have long since expired and who are ineligible for reappointment,” read the letter sent to Trump, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. “We urge you to work together and immediately identify, nominate, and confirm a full slate of qualified individuals to serve as Commissioners of the FEC.”
“[T]he lack of a quorum prevents the Commission from: enforcing advisory opinions, leaving those who are committed to complying with the law unable to secure official guidance about often complex compliance matters; auditing candidates and committees whose conduct warrants such review, leaving ongoing problems unaddressed; and considering or taking regulatory action,” the lawyers said.
FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat, said in November that the commission has 303 pending matters on its enforcement docket, 90 of which are awaiting an official vote on whether or not to proceed with an official investigation.
“We cannot launch new investigation sin any of them, even if the three remaining commissioners agreed to do so,” Weintraub said.
“With only three commissioners presently serving, the agency charged with administering and enforcing the federal campaign-finance laws that will govern the 2020 election is hamstrung as we approach that election,” Weintraub said.
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