FEC Deadlocks and the Role of the Courts

June 23, 2014
posted by Bob Bauer
Critics of campaign finance enforcement, or the lack of it, continue to be infuriated by the FEC’s record of deadlocks in major cases, and they are further troubled by the obstacles to judicial review.  When complainants stymied by deadlock appeal to the courts, they must still overcome the “deference” generally granted to the agency’s expertise, except where the law is clear or the agency is acting arbitrarily.  In these cases, the courts review the agency’s action by examining the stated position of the Commissioners voting against enforcement.  This is the so-called “controlling group” of Commissioners—the ones whose refusal to authorize enforcement controlled the outcome.

More Rows at the FEC

April 14, 2014
posted by Bob Bauer
The decision in  McCutcheon  has not been the only source of lively rhetoric in the world of campaign finance. The FEC's commissioners took to very open squabbling, putting their cases in Statements of Reason and elaborating on them in op-eds and letters placed with the New York Times. The conflict in this instance involved Commissioner Ravel on one side and all of the Republican commissioners on the other, and they swiped at each other in strong terms over the properly defined responsibility of FEC Commissioners and the role of courts.