If the federal government shuts down Tuesday, the Federal Election Commission — unlike some government agencies filled with employees deemed “essential” — will effectively go dark. Organizationally, all but the FEC’s four active commissioners, who are furlough-proof political appointees, would ultimately stay home. In all, 335 of the agency’s 339 employees would be affected, according to its 10-page “Commission Plan for Agency Operations in the Absence of the Fiscal Year 2014 Appropriation.” A small number of staff members, such as staff director Alec Palmer, would briefly work into a shutdown to help secure FEC facilities and records and aid with the agency’s wind-down, the plan states. And no one could labor on their own time and dime, as FEC staffers “are prohibited from performing any work functions while on furlough status, even on a voluntary basis,” the agency’s shutdown plan states.
A message posted to the FEC’s website Monday evening elaborated: “Agency staff will not report to work, some computer systems will be powered down and the agency’s headquarters will be closed.”
For political committees and the public, such a work stoppage likely means noticeable, even significant delays in publishing campaign finance disclosures and conducting commission proceedings.
It’s also likely to generate confusion among the thousands of committees required to file disclosure documents with the FEC, which during the 2012 election cycle accounted for billions of dollars in federal-level political transactions.