Today’s Times editorializes on the lack of a quorum at the FEC. This blog focuses on the pratical aspect of political law, so when the Times invokes its concerns at the “practical level,” it’s worth considering, although we do not necessarily have to agree with its conclusions.
Lacking a quorum, the commission has been left powerless to issue advisory opinions for candidates, write new reform regulations, open investigations and file lawsuits against violators. The result is a scofflaw’s paradise. The political landscape’s big-money fast lanes are slick enough without having the only traffic controller gone missing.
What this means on a practical level is that the supposed new breakthrough law called the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act is gathering cobwebs. The commission has been unavailable to write enforcement regulations for a law that could not be timelier. It requires presidential and Congressional candidates to report to the public on their lucrative bundled contributions — the large packages of multiple donations that lobbyists and other favor-seekers amass to secure out-size gratitude from candidates. If the commission ever gets back in business, the elections could be over and severe damage already done to the campaign.
The FEC has rulemaking resposibilities for a few not unimportant HLOGA rules; the rest (and vast majority) are not within the FEC’s jurisdiction or authority.