Tag Archive: Federal Elections Commission

May 08 2015

Big Money in Politics Is Not Controllable

With the Supreme Court ruling Citizens United, the flood doors for campaign spending were sprung open that has allowed the moneyed class and multinational companies to fund super PACs for candidates and legislation that they favor. It also put the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) in a bind trying to regulate the few laws left that govern campaign finance. The Democratic chairperson, Ann Ravel told the New York Times that the agency is “worse than dysfunctional”.

The leader of the Federal Election Commission, the agency charged with regulating the way political money is raised and spent, says she has largely given up hope of reining in abuses in the 2016 presidential campaign, which could generate a record $10 billion in spending. [..]

Her unusually frank assessment reflects a worsening stalemate among the agency’s six commissioners. They are perpetually locked in 3-to-3 ties along party lines on key votes because of a fundamental disagreement over the mandate of the commission, which was created 40 years ago in response to the political corruption of Watergate.

Some commissioners are barely on speaking terms, cross-aisle negotiations are infrequent, and with no consensus on which rules to enforce, the caseload against violators has plummeted.

The F.E.C.’s paralysis comes at a particularly critical time because of the sea change brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates. Billionaire donors and “super PACs” are already gaining an outsize role in the 2016 campaign, and the lines have become increasingly stretched and blurred over what presidential candidates and political groups are allowed to do.

Watchdog groups have gone to the F.E.C. with complaints that probable presidential candidates like Jeb Bush and Martin O’Malley are skirting finance laws by raising millions without officially declaring that they are considering running.

The FEC is obviously gridlocked and that is exactly what congress intended. Democratic commission member Ellen Weintraub spoke with MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow about the partisna gridlock and why she thinks the problem is not hopeless. In the first part of the video, Ms. Maddow discusses the political candidates and their run for the money and how the money is being raised and spent. The substantial discussion of the Super PACs and the FEC starts around 11:00.