Working toward a fair, fast FEC

Paul RyanPaul RyanGOP rep: Virginia defeat 'a referendum' on Trump administration After Texas shooting, lawmakers question whether military has systemic reporting problem Pence: Praying 'takes nothing away' from trying to figure out causes behind mass shooting MORE of the Campaign Legal Center has written on The Hill’s Congress Blog (“Republican FEC commissioner admittedly blocking complaints against Republicans,” June 4) that I have delayed enforcement matters based upon the partisanship of respondents. This is factually untrue. I have never decided the substance or timing of any matter based upon the partisanship of a respondent. A survey of my votes since joining the commission will confirm this fact. 

In recent weeks, what my colleagues and I have done is engage in a constructive discussion about how to speed up our enforcement process overall. I have publicly supported expediting cases on the basis that respondents deserve swifter action and clarity from the commission. To that end, I have recommended the commission expedite consideration of all matters, without regard to the partisan affiliation of any respondent, while affording commissioners reasonable discretion to consider nonpartisan, objective factors:

  1. deferring action in a case that is the subject of parallel enforcement by another government agency; 
  2. deferring action in a case that might affect ongoing litigation;
  3. timing action to avoid direct election intervention (similar to the policy of the U.S. Department of Justice); 
  4. considering several matters involving one respondent at one time rather than piecemeal; and
  5. considering several matters involving different respondents but raising the same legal issues at one time rather than separately to avoid risking disparate treatment. 

This type of reasonable discretion can actually prevent partisan misuse of the agency’s enforcement process. Those who have worked inside the commission have seen how removal of discretion when resolving matters can lead to unfair or inefficient results. For example, taking up similarly situated cases together avoids inconsistent votes — to enforce against one and dismiss another — which could be perceived as discriminatory. This perception has arisen previously when similar cases were taken up at different times with different results. A reasonable policy can avoid such perceptions. The point is that the sequencing of matters should not be a tool to steer desired outcomes or legal analyses.

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All Americans deserve a commission that is devoted to fairness and scrupulous avoidance of partisanship in our substantive and procedural enforcement practices. Whatever practice or policy guides the commission’s timing of resolving cases, it must be fair and free from even the perception that it will discriminate against those affiliated with a specific political party or ideology. I will continue to discharge my responsibilities consistent with these principles.

From Commissioner Lee Goodman, Federal Election Commission, Washington, D.C. 


Fishery legislation lacks science

Using the same short-sighted approach they used to deny climate change, House Republicans are trying to undermine a regulatory system that has gradually replenished fisheries that had been on the brink of collapse due to sustained overfishing.

On June 1, on a party-line vote, the House of Representatives passed H.B. 1335 by Rep. Don YoungDon YoungOvernight Energy: Perry takes heat for sexual assault comments | Clovis withdraws nomination for USDA post | Battle lines drawn on Arctic refuge drilling | Energy regulator back to full strength Senators spar over proposal to drill in Alaska wildlife refuge Rep. Pramila Jayapal takes sexist arrows and fights back MORE (R-Alaska). Ostensibly a reauthorization of the bipartisan Magnuson-Steven Fishery Management and Conservation Act with amendments “to provide flexibility for fishery managers and stability for fishermen,” the bill drips with disdain for the science-based fishery management as it seeks to equate the plight of the fishing industry with that of species they’ve overfished.

 The nation’s fisheries need fact-based management, and we at the Center for Biological Diversity urge Democrats to help defeat this dangerous bill in the Senate, and otherwise for President Obama to follow through on his threat to veto it.

From Catherine Ware Kilduff, staff attorney, Center for Biological Diversity, Washington, D.C.