Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ms. Ravel and Mr. Goodman Go to Washington?

My latest piece on the Huffington Post is here.

Here is an excerpt:

President Obama recently announced the nomination of Democrat Ann Ravel and a Republican Lee Goodman to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Ravel is currently the Chairwoman of the California's watchdog agency, the Fair Political Practices Commission (FPPC). She previously served as deputy assistant attorney general in the Civil Division of the Department of Justice and was the County Counsel for Santa Clara County, in California.

Goodman is an attorney at the LeClair Ryan law firm who served as an adviser for Ron Paul's 2012 presidential campaign and who has argued for the overturning of campaign finance laws.

Many of you may be asking what the FEC does. Great question. I have a short answer for you: virtually nothing. The FEC is an independent regulatory agency charged with administering and enforcing federal campaign finance laws. Small problem, the FEC doesn't do that.

In the 1970s, in the wake of the Watergate scandals that led to the resignation of President Richard Nixon, Congress enacted the nation's first comprehensive campaign finance framework, the Federal Election Campaign Act. Congress created the FEC to administer and enforce the provisions of the Act. Essentially the FEC should, among other things, work on issues related to campaign disclosure, restrictions on campaign contributions, and public financing of Presidential elections. These issues are vitally important to the integrity of our electoral and political processes.

One of the problems with the FEC is that it is set up to allow for partisan deadlock. The FEC is comprised of six members, there can be no more than three members of the same political party, and four votes are required for the agency to take any action.

Another problem is that the five current members of the FEC are all serving expired terms. These "holdovers" include three Republicans and two Democrats.

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