Two summers ago, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, a Democrat, boasted in her memoir that she “successfully manipulated the Republican (Missouri Senate 2012) primary so that in the general election I would face the candidate I was most likely to beat.” Fast-forward to today, amid multiple investigations into whether and how the Kremlin successfully manipulated the presidential election so that its preferred candidate, Donald Trump, would win the White House. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) carefully considered investigating the McCaskill gambit upon advice of its nonpartisan career attorneys, but deadlocked on whether to move forward. It ought not make the same mistake with Trump’s campaign and its possible connections to the Russian government.
… The FEC’s nonpartisan Office of General Counsel, acting on a complaint, recommended that the agency open an investigation. The question before the commission was whether McCaskill contributed something of value to the Akin campaign — the polling data analysis — that exceeded the law’s contribution limits. After five full months of deliberation, the commission deadlocked 3-3, with the Democratic commissioners voting for an investigation, and the three Republicans blocking any action.
The FEC — the only federal agency with civil jurisdiction to enforce campaign finance laws — has a duty to respond much more forcefully with Trump than it did in the McCaskill incident.