National: Election Assistance Commission, Hungry for Funds, Now Pays for Officials to Get to Office | Jessica Huseman/ProPublica
For years, it was how things worked at the Election Assistance Commission, the federal agency charged with helping America’s thousands of local officials run elections: If you served as one of the agency’s four commissioners, making more than $150,000 a year, you lived in and around Silver Spring, Maryland, where the agency’s office is located. The reasons were straightforward: The agency’s small staff needed daily guidance from its leadership, and its modest budget was not meant to pay for commissioners to travel from out of state. But this year, the EAC’s executive director, Brian Newby, allowed two of the four commissioners — including the agency’s chairwoman — to work outside the Washington, D.C., area and agreed to pick up the costs of their travel to and from the office. Christie McCormick and Donald Palmer, the two Republican commissioners, work most days from out of state — McCormick, the agency chairwoman, in Charlottesville, Virginia, and Palmer in a suburb of Jacksonville, Florida. Newby appears to have approved the changes on his own. Current and former employees of the agency say no formal announcement was made, and the agency’s full slate of commissioners, which includes two Democrats, does not appear to have taken a vote on the change in practice. The disclosures, contained in answers to questions the EAC provided to a congressional oversight committee, come as the agency has repeatedly claimed it is underfinanced and critics say it is not doing enough to assist election administrators around the country at a time of genuine threats to the integrity of the nation’s elections. Rep. Zoe Lofgren, the Democratic chairwoman of the House Administration Committee, which oversees the EAC, said in a letter to the commission that news of the working arrangements for McCormick and Palmer “raises concerns about how much taxpayer money is being used to accommodate travel between duty stations and agency headquarters when the agency is avowedly struggling with its current funding levels.”Full Article: Federal Election Agency, Hungry for Funds, Now Pays for Officials to Get to Office — ProPublica.