Anything goes in campaign 2008?


The Federal Election Commission is supposed to have six commissioners. Unlike most federal agencies, there is no numerical advantage granted to the party of the administration currently occupying the White House, due to the election-sensitive nature of the agency’s business. However, that is not the current problem. The FEC currently lacks one of the basics: a quorum. The FEC is currently reduced to Chairman David M. Weintraub (R) and Ellen L. Weintraub (D).

Controversy over the Bush administration’s attempt to make Hans Von Spakovsky a permanent member of the FEC is the root of the problem. Democrats, notably including presidential candidate Barack Obama (D-IL), find him to be an utterly unacceptable candidate; on the other side of the aisle, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has refused to allow any nominations to proceed through to confirmation via filibuster.
Von Spakovsky asked that his name be withdrawn from consideration and withdrew from his temporary hold on the office on 12/31/07, but thus far there has been no resolution to the stalemate (of course, Congress is not currently in session).

The questions include: Will candidates relying on the FEC for matching funds, notably including John Edwards (D-NC) and John McCain (R-AZ), be able to get their checks in a timely manner? More to the point, will campaign malfeasance be dealt with promptly?

A reader at thinks that FEC justice is slow anyway and will simply be slower. The biggest problem, should the lack of a quorum persist, is the inability of campaign operatives or other concerned parties to get advisory opinions out of the FEC before attempting what may be borderline electioneering.

RBR/TVBR observation: Broadcast and fund-raising questions abounded in 2004, concerning the prominence of 527 groups, the airing of "documentaries" that others considered to be campaign propaganda (prominently focusing on Sinclair) and a situation in which Pappas Telecasting gave free airtime to Republican candidates without offering reciprocal time to their opponents. So lack of a referee could make for an interesting year.