Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee issued the following statement after the Senate voted today to confirm three new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC):
“After being sidelined for the majority of the 2020 election because it lacked the quorum necessary to conduct most official business, it’s good news that the FEC can get back to work and begin addressing the hundreds of enforcement matters on its docket. However, for the FEC to be an effective watchdog, it needs to not only have a quorum of commissioners but a critical mass of commissioners who are dedicated to upholding our nation’s campaign finance laws.
“For years, the FEC was plagued by dysfunction because a bloc of commissioners took a hands-off approach to enforcing the laws we have on the books — laws that are designed to prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appear to have advanced a set of commissioners this year who are likewise likely to put their own personal ideologies over their responsibilities to enforce the letter — and the spirit — of the law.
“Congress intentionally structured the FEC to be weak at its creation. After all, the FEC’s jurisdiction is candidates for federal office. Since then, the FEC has frequently shown itself to be a prime example of a ‘captured agency’ that is more interested in pleasing politicians and the lawyers who appear before it than in protecting the public interest. Both Congress and the incoming Biden Administration must take reforming the FEC seriously to ensure that the American people have a dedicated campaign finance cop on the beat.”
Prior to today’s vote in the Senate, the FEC had effectively been shut down since July 4, 2020, because it lacked enough commissioners to do its job. This marked the third time in its 45-year history that the FEC lost a quorum — and the second time this year. The FEC previously went without a quorum for more than nine months, from September 2019 until Republican Trey Trainor was confirmed to serve as an FEC commissioner in May. The last time the six-member FEC was without any vacancies was nearly four years ago, in February 2017.