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 TrumpSenators demand more details from Trump on intel watchdog firing Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal Trump says he'll look into small business loan program restricting casinos 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 McConnellMcConnell to try to pass small business funds Thursday, warns against holding it 'hostage' Overnight Health Care: Trump steps up attack on WHO | Fauci says deaths could be lower than first projected | House panel warns federal stockpile of medical supplies depleted | Mnuchin, Schumer in talks over relief deal House Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerHouse Republicans, key administration officials push for additional funding for coronavirus small business loans Rep. Massie threatens to block next relief bill, calls for remote voting Democratic senators call for funding for local media in coronavirus stimulus MORE (D-N.Y.), and Senate Rules Committee Chairman Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators begin informal talks on new coronavirus stimulus Five things being discussed for a new coronavirus relief bill Hillicon Valley: Apple rolls out coronavirus screening app, website | Pompeo urged to crack down on coronavirus misinformation from China | Senators push FTC on price gouging | Instacart workers threaten strike MORE (R-Mo.) and ranking member Amy KlobucharAmy KlobucharFormer Clinton staffers invited to celebrate Sanders dropping out: report Sanders exit leaves deep disappointment on left Michael Bennet endorses Biden for president 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.