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Federal Election Commission
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) was created by Congress in 1975 to administer and enforce the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) - the statute that governs the financing of federal elections. The duties of the FEC, which is an independent regulatory agency, are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections.

Rules and Loopholes and the Making of a Compromise at the FEC PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By Bob Bauer   
October 09, 2006

Just five weeks before mid-term elections expected to be fraught with closely contested races, the Federal Election Commission, in a meeting on October 4, has altered the way recounts are funded, making them subject to federal election fundraising limits rather than being exempt from those as they have been for nearly 30 years. Saying that current campaign finance law applied only to the election and not recounts, the commission’s chairman, Michael E. Toner and commissioner Hans von Spakovsky voted against the compromise. Election law specialist Bob Bauer published the following commentary on his blog. It is reposted here with permission.


It looks better when the FEC reaches some agreement on an important issue. Or so say the many who are repulsed by partisanship (a name they use casually for disagreement, especially with a position they favor). Even more pleasing to the eye is an agreement reached across party lines that accords with the viewer’s preference. The best of all worlds: bipartisanship in reaching the right decision, which is the only brand of bipartisanship that admirers have in mind when they promote it. For bipartisanship seems to be a blessing only when the decision reached is “right”; it is a conspiracy, a nasty of bit of self-protection, when the decision is “wrong.”


This is the cluster of assumptions behind the quiet satisfactions in the press, and the good cheer in the reform community, in the wake of the FEC’s decision on recount refinancing. Four Commissioners voted to restrict the individual monies raised by candidates for recounts, effectively extinguishing a long-standing rule (entitled “recounts”) on the books (11 C.F.R. 100.91 and 100.151). Three of them appeared to believe that McCain-Feingold repealed the rule without saying so. Compromise—a decision, breaking a partisan deadlock—was achieved when one Republican joined the Democrats in relaxing the rules for party spending on recounts.  Now parties (at least state parties) can spend without limit, even if they cannot raise without limit, to help their candidates with a disputed vote count.


Some compromise is better than none, and more flexibility in the funding of recounts is undoubtedly preferable to less. The allowance for party spending is sensible. As the way to compromise, it was creatively conceived.

NRSC, DSCC File Joint FEC Inquiry On Recounts PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By John Bresnahan, Roll Call Staff   
August 17, 2006

This article appeared in Roll Call on August 16, 2006.

In a rare show of bipartisan unity, and with an eye on what may be a very close race in Pennsylvania this November, the Senate Democratic and Republican campaign committees are asking the Federal Election Commission to clarify the rules covering recounts.

The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the National Republican Senatorial Committee filed an Aug. 7 request for an advisory opinion from the FEC, in which they asked the commission to determine from whom they can raise money, and how much, to pay for any recounts that may occur this year.

The two committees also want the FEC to determine whether they can use soft money from wealthy individuals, corporations and labor unions to cover litigation costs or any other expenditures arising from a recount.


Soft-money donations are banned in federal elections, although they are permitted in a number of states.
While the National Republican Congressional Committee and Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, as well as their national party counterparts, are not part of the request, they would also fall under any
new regulations issued by the FEC regarding recounts.

In their joint filing, the two campaign committees said they were acting on behalf of candidates "who may be concerned about a close race [but] are unwilling to identify themselves, for obvious reasons, given the close
proximity to" the mid-term elections.

FEC Nominations: Yet Another Case of Foxes in the Henhouse PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By Warren Stewart, Director of Legislative Issues and Policy, VoteTrustUSA   
December 18, 2005
The president’s recent appointments to the Federal Election Commission have been described by the Washington Post as “controversial”. Following tradition, Bush named equal numbers from each party in nominating three new Commissioners, Democrats Robert Lenhard and Steven Walther and one Republican, Hans von Spakovsky and recommending a second six year term for one current Commissioner, Republican David Mason.

Most of the attention has focused on Republican Hans von Spakovsky, a lawyer in the Department of Justice Voting Section. Von Spakovsky has supported state programs to require voters to have photo identification and was one of the two Department of Justice lawyers who overruled the DOJ experts recommendation that the DOJ file a formal objection to Rep. Tom DeLay’s Texas redistricting plan under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. Senator Ted Kennedy has said that von Spakovsky "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws."

Democrat Lenhard, is no less controversial than the Republican von Spakovsky. Lenhard, who met with strident oppostion when his name was circulated as a possible FEC nominee in 2003, worked as counsel with one of the many labor organizations that unsuccessfully challenged the constitutionality of McCain-Feingold in the courts. At the time, Sen. McCain bluntly described Lenhard as “someone who would use his position not to enforce the law, but weaken it.” While the legal challenge was unsuccessful, as an FEC Commissioner would be in a position to eviscerate the campaign finance provisions from within the agency tasked to enforce them. Adding to the controversy swirling around Lenhard is the fact that he is the husband of Viveca Novak, whose testimony now provides the foundation for Karl Rove's defense in the CIA leak case.
More Cronyism, This Time at the Federal Election Commission PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By John Gideon, Information Manager, VoteTrustUSA   
December 17, 2005
What's a Few Broken, Ignored Federal Election Laws Between Friends?

Hans von Spakovsky. A German industrialist? A compatriot of artist Hieronymus Bosch? No. He is an attorney who is presently the head of the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division Voting Section. He is a member of the right-wing Federalist Society, and joined other Bush cronies in the Florida recount battle in 2000, and he is President Bush's newest recipient of a crony-nomination.

According to an article in today's Washington Post, von Spakovsky was nominated to the Federal Election Commission on Friday.

The nomination of von Spakovsky, a Republican, has already raised the hackles of some Democrats. According to the Washington Post:
In a letter to Senate Rules Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-MS), Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA) wrote that he is "extremely troubled" by the von Spakovsky nomination. Kennedy contends that von Spakovsky "may be at the heart of the political interference that is undermining the [Justice] Department's enforcement of federal civil laws."
Bush Nominates FEC Commissioners PDF  | Print |  Email
Federal Election Commission (FEC)
By White House Press Release   
December 16, 2005
President George W. Bush today announced his intention to nominate four individuals to serve in his Administration:

The President intends to nominate Robert D. Lenhard, of Maryland, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring April 30, 2011. Mr. Lenhard currently serves as Associate General Counsel for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO. He previously served as an Associate with Kirschner, Weinberg & Dempsey. Earlier in his career, Mr. Lenhard worked for the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, AFL-CIO. He received his bachelor's degree from Johns Hopkins University and his JD from the University of California, Los Angeles.

The President intends to nominate David M. Mason, of Virginia, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring April 30, 2009. Mr. Mason currently serves as Commissioner of the Federal Election Commission. He previously served as a Senior Fellow in Congressional Studies at the Heritage Foundation. Prior to that, Mr. Mason was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense. Earlier in his career, he served as a Legislative Assistant to Senator John Warner and Legislative Director to Representative Tom Bliley. Mr. Mason received his bachelor's degree from Claremont McKenna College.

The President intends to nominate Hans von Spakovsky, of Georgia, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring April 30, 2011. Mr. von Spakovsky currently serves as Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division at the Department of Justice. He previously served the Justice Department as a trial attorney for the Voting Reform Initiative. Prior to that, Mr. von Spakovsky served as a government affairs consultant. Earlier in his career, he was Assistant Vice President, Counsel and Secretary for Confederation Life Insurance Company in Rehabilitation. Mr. von Spakovsky received his bachelor's degree from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his JD from Vanderbilt University.

The President intends to nominate Steven T. Walther, of Nevada, to be a Member of the Federal Election Commission, for the remainder of a six-year term expiring April 30, 2009. Mr. Walther is currently a Partner at Walther, Key, Maupin, Oats, Cox & LeGoy, a law firm he co-founded in 1972. Earlier in his career, he was an attorney at Jones Vargas. Mr. Walther received his bachelor's degree from the University of Notre Dame and his JD from the University of California, Berkley.
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