It seem unfair that just holding a hearing subjects the FEC to criticism and ridicule. The agency was acted entirely reasonably in inviting views on what it might do, if anything, in response to the McCutcheon case. So what followed was predictable: the usual strong divisions were expressed and anyone hoping for a clear picture of the problems of campaign finance and how to address them was bound to be disappointed. The FEC is not the culprit here: it only hosted the discussion and is not responsible for its content. It was a hearing. And while additional ridicule has come the agency’s way for inviting public comment, some of which was colorfully off-point, that, too, is no crime: why not give members of the public a chance to come and say what they will about money in politics? Critics cannot have it both ways, complaining one minute that campaign finance is an insider’s game and the public is shut out of it, and then mocking the expression of public sentiment when it is provided for.
Not all of the commentary, as reported, was uninformative. Consider this comment, quoted by Alex MacGillis in Slate:
The messaging and ads were so relentless and so similar, that it was impossible to separate one PAC or Super PAC from another. It would seem they were all coordinated together, or produced using a common theme. If there was any real independence between any of them, it was impossible to distinguish. The whole thing was sickening.
This is a revealing contribution to the discussion. The commenter is running together a series of concerns: the number of ads and their repetitiveness, and he is seems to be questioning not the independence of groups from the candidate, but from one another. There is little the FEC, or even the Congress, can do to help him. But then, lacking another visible target, many who are “sickened” by advertising and all the money spent on it are angry at the FEC for not doing something.
MacGillis takes the point further and approvingly cites testimony by Professor Zephyr Teachout that the FEC can’t be expected to rise to the regulatory occasion but another, better structured agency might. MacGillis cites the option of adding a Commissioner, to end the partisan split, and having it “controlled by the party in the White House, or by turning it over to a single Director, as is done with the FBI.”
Full Article: The FEC Hearing and Its Detractors –.