Advocates urge Trump, Congress to nominate tough watchdogs to FEC

Advocates urge Trump, Congress to nominate tough watchdogs to FEC
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A coalition of advocacy groups, led by the Campaign Legal Center, wrote to President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump rails against impeachment in speech to Texas farmers Trump administration planning to crack down on 'birth tourism': report George Conway on Trump adding Dershowitz, Starr to legal team: 'Hard to see how either could help' MORE and congressional leaders on Monday, urging the nomination of federal election commissioners who will take a tough approach to enforcing campaign laws.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), the government's campaign watchdog, only has three of six commissioners, one shy of a quorum. Former FEC Vice President Matthew Petersen resigned in August and, since then, the organization has been unable to do its job of enforcing campaign laws.

“Under no circumstances should the President nominate or the Senate confirm any individual who is opposed — whether for ideological, professional, or any other reason — to the enforcement of the duly enacted laws and regulations that protect the transparency and fairness of our elections,” the advocacy groups wrote in their letter Monday.

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The coalition wants Trump and Congress to approve enough commissioners to restore the quorum ahead of the 2020 election so that the FEC can enforce campaign laws. The FEC is responsible for investigations into possible campaign violations, auditing campaign committees and issuing fines for those who break campaign finance law, such as the ban on contributions from foreign nationals.

“Rushing to confirm a new slate of Commissioners that includes nominees who are opposed to campaign finance laws would only extend this disturbing status quo,” they wrote.

The letter also calls for establishing a nonpartisan panel to identify candidates for the FEC.

Common Cause, Communications Workers of America, Democracy 21 and Public Citizen, among others, are in the coalition. They sent the letter to Trump, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDemocrats worry a speedy impeachment trial will shut out public George Conway group drops ad seeking to remind GOP senators of their 'sworn oaths' ahead of impeachment trial GOP senator 'open' to impeachment witnesses 'within the scope' of articles MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump administration installs plaque marking finish of 100 miles of border wall Sanders defends vote against USMCA: 'Not a single damn mention' of climate change Schumer votes against USMCA, citing climate implications MORE (D-N.Y.), and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntSenate GOP mulls speeding up Trump impeachment trial Biden calls for revoking key online legal protection GOP threatens to weaponize impeachment witnesses amid standoff MORE (R-Mo.) and ranking member Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharNYT editorial board endorses Warren, Klobuchar for Democratic nomination for president Sanders v. Warren is just for insiders Buttigieg to attend MLK Day event in South Carolina after facing criticism MORE (D-Minn.).

It follows a letter sent to Trump and congressional leaders last week by lobbyists and lawyers who specialize in U.S. elections, urging confirmation of another federal election commissioner.

The three current commissioners are all ineligible for reappointment, and with no new appointments it is unclear when the deadlock will be resolved. The FEC has not been left without a quorum since 2008. 

The Trump administration and Congress have not indicted that nominating commissioners is a priority ahead of the 2020 election.