FEC chief: We can't stop election abuse

Greg Nash

The head of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) said in an article published Sunday that her organization is powerless to safeguard against misconduct in 2016 presidential campaign fundraising and spending.

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“The likelihood of the law being enforced is slim,” FEC Chairwoman Ann M. Ravel told The New York Times.

“I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions,” Ravel said.

“People think the FEC is dysfunctional,” she added. “It’s worse than dysfunctional.”

Ravel told the newspaper that the commission’s partisan gridlock is its fatal flaw. The agency’s six commissioners often find themselves locked in unbreakable ties along ideological lines, she added.

Ravel, a Democrat, vowed she would “bridge the partisan gap” upon becoming the agency’s leader last December. Five months later, she finds herself embroiled in the exact conflict she hoped to avoid.

“What’s really going on is that the Republican commissioners don’t want to enforce the law, except in the most obvious cases,” she told the Times.

“The rules aren’t being followed, and that’s destructive to the political process,” Ravel added.

Two Republican commissioners disputed these claims, however.

“Congress set up this place to gridlock,” Lee E. Goodman said, according to the Times.

“This agency is functioning as Congress intended,” he added. “The democracy isn’t collapsing around us.”

“We’re not interested in going after people unless the law is fairly clear, and we’re not willing to take the law beyond where it’s written,” said Caroline C. Hunter, the newspaper reported, adding that the Democratic commissioners saw the law “more broadly” than their GOP counterparts.

At issue is the 2016 White House fight, expected to cost a record $10 billion.

Billionaire businessmen Charles and David Koch, for example, have vowed to spend $889 million through their personal political network.

The agency’s issues are especially troubling following the Supreme Court’s landmark 2010 Citizens United decision.

The case found political spending by corporations and unions is protected under the First Amendment and undid spending limits imposed by Congress.