Before the Federal Election Commission took up the scheduled agenda at today’s public meeting, a contentious debate broke out over its continued inability to agree on whether and how to revise its enforcement procedures. Commissioners have disagreed over how to handle fact-finding during enforcement investigations, as well as proposed guidelines on information sharing with the Department of Justice. In an hour-long back-and-forth, Commissioners McGahn, Hunter and Petersen all called for prompt consideration of the proposed Office of General Counsel (OGC) Enforcement Manual. Commission Chair Weintraub acknowledged that she had placed a hold on consideration of the manual, but criticized McGahn for publicly discussing the matter. While she did not explicitly state when she would remove the hold, Weintraub argued that only after a new general counsel is appointed and two new Commissioners are confirmed by the Senate would there be enough of a “level playing field” to warrant a vote on the manual. (There is currently one vacant seat on the Commission, and McGahn has announced his plans to leave in the near future.) Commissioner Walther (via phone connection) said that while the agency had made “unprecedented improvements in transparency” regarding its enforcement procedures, it needed to go further. Eventually, Chair Weintraub brought the discussion to a close, citing the fact that the matter was not included on the agenda.
The FEC then considered for the third time an advisory opinion request sought by Perkins Coie on behalf of the Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and Jobs & Opportunity. Both organizations sought to use nonfederal funds to pay for federal election activities such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote activity. The Commissioners denied the request as it pertained to DGA, ruling that it met the Federal Election Campaign Act’s definition of an “association…of individuals holding State or local office.” However, the Commission deadlocked on a 3-2 party-line vote over whether to apply the same restriction to Jobs & Opportunity, with Commissioners McGahn, Hunter and Petersen voting to approve its request. The FEC’s expected advisory opinion on the subject will use the language in question 1 of Draft A of AO 2013-04.
Full Article: In the Arena: Law and Politics Update | Perkins Coie.