Even the FEC Deserves Better


It looks like a leading champion of "voter integrity" (read "voter suppression") and the Bush Administration’s chief operative on voting rights, Hans von Spakovsky, will survive the Senate confirmation process, and will be confirmed as an FEC Commissioner. The Senate Rules Committee was considering four appointments, three noncontroversial nominees as well as the highly problematic Spakovsky. The fight over Spakovsky’s nomination bottled up the process for 18 months, with Sen. Mitch McConnell blocking a vote (he certainly makes a habit of that!) on the other three FEC nominees until von Spakovsky was considered as well. Spakovsky would likely survive a vote on the four collectively, but his chances to prevail on speparate votes is not good. It appears McConnell has prevailed. On Wednesday, the Rules Committee advanced the four nominations to the Senate floor for a vote without the committee’s approval or disapproval. Rules Committee Chair Sen. Dianne Feinstein said it was "doubtful" there’d be a chance that the votes would be taken separately.

The Federal Election Commission is a toothless wonder. Members of both parties have insuured that it’s "no bark, no bite". The current agency doesn’t carry out its enforcement responsibilities, and hasn’t for some time. What we need is a new agency to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws. But still….

Seeing such an advocate for selective voter suppression confirmed by the Senate to the FEC is especially galling. The fight over who has the right to vote continues to be a volatile front in American politics. And in each battle from the 2000 Florida recount, voter suppression in the following Congressional and presidential elections, to the purging of U.S. Attorneys, Hans von Spakovsky keeps popping up like Zelig. Back in 1997, he wrote the game plan to purge election rolls of felons which was used to deny the vote to thousands of non-felon minority voters in Florida; he advised the Bush campaign during the Florida recount; while at the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department he undermining the Civil Rights Division’s mandate to protect voting rights and was accused by Justice Department officials of blocking investigations of minority voter intimidation, and then there was his close relationship with Bradley Schlozman during the U.S. Attorney scandal, which again, had voter suppression at its core.

Let’s hope the Senate will try to restore some respect for the commission and find a way to block this nomination.