Ethics problems can be serious trouble for any politician, but party strategists often use Federal Election Committee complaints to play games with the opposition, because the allegation has a slim chance of being ruled on before Election Day. “Everyone knows both sides file complaints to get press hits,” one campaign strategist said anonymously in order to speak candidly. For example, in July a former Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee communications director now with an outside group, American Democracy Legal Fund, filed an FEC complaint concerning compensation GOP Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin received after his 2010 race. Subsequently, Roll Call wrote a story, “Group Files FEC Complaint Against Johnson.” And a couple of days later, the DSCC sent out an email with the subject line, “Busted: FEC Complaint Filed Against Ron Johnson For Shady Corporate Fundraising Scheme,” that linked to the story. Whether the accusation is true is beside the point. The accusers know simply filing a complaint will generate media attention and cast doubt onto the accused.
“The standards for filing a complaint are pretty low,” said FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel. “Any person may file a complaint if he or she believes a violation of the federal election campaign laws or Commission regulations has occurred or is about to occur.”
“The complaint must simply be in writing, signed, sworn and notarized,” Ravel continued, “The fact that an entity or person has been designated a ‘respondent’ when a complaint is filed does not mean that the Commission has made a finding or otherwise believes that a violation has occurred or is about to occur.”
Full Article: Parties Play Politics With FEC Complaints.