On Tuesday just as the campaigns moved into the general election phase, the Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) released an analysis of the fundraising being conducted by the Democrats and Republicans for their presidential conventions in Denver and Minneapolis-St. Paul. CFI estimates that corporate funds will pay for 80 percent of the $112 million combined price tag of the two conventions. How is that possible?! CFI found that both parties are using local “host committees” to raise unlimited corporate contributions to pay for the conventions and the FEC and IRS decided that it’s OK for “host committees” to spearhead the fundraising, This created a huge loophole allowing corporate money to flow to the parties.Continue reading
As Ellen wrote previously here, former Bush administration Justice Department official Hans Von Spakovsky's nomination to the Federal Election Commission was highly controversial due to concerns about stands he took on voting rights while in the Justice Department. These concerns led some Democrats to block his nomination. The President and congressional Republicans refused to hold a vote on any other commissioners without support for Von Spakosky, effectively freezing the Commission. The Commission is currently short on commissioners and is unable to issue rulings on a variety of issues including the filing of disclosure reports for bundled contributions from lobbyists. Moments ago, Von Spakovsky pulled his name from nomination all but clearing the way to a fully operational Federal Election Commission. His letter to President Bush is below the fold:Continue reading
We've written fairly often about unbelievable situation over the Federal Election Commission. Always regarded as a toothless watchdog even in the best of days, since there's been a partisan stalemate over new appointments, it's been totally neutered.
Now, Paul Kiel reports that the Bush Administration has offered a so-called compromise. The most controverisal nominee -- Spakovsky -- remains a nominee, and an administration spokesperson told the The New York Times that they would accept a separate vote on him. In the meantime, the administration has submitted a new nominee to replace FEC Chair David Mason, one of the two setting commissioners.Continue reading
Yesterday’s decision by the Federal Election Commission to hold the line on spending rules for interest groups – essentially a vote not to open a new loophole allowing the kinds of unrestricted ad budgets we’ve seen in the past – was revealing in a couple of different ways.
First I should define the word “decision” in this case. Like so many FEC rulings, it was really a non-decision – the result of a 3-3 split between Democrats and Republicans on the six-member commission.Continue reading
I began this day with an IM conversation with Larry Makinson about trying to get our hands on the most recently campaign contribution reports for the Lieberman-Lamont race. It dawned on us that the records could be pretty interesting. My thought had been to simply to direct our readers to the reports that were on line and let them search around. I guess we should have known it wouldn't be that easy. Our dialogue is instructive. Imagine if two novices were trying to find this information.
Ellen (9:00:14 AM): Got a blog idea for you this morning!
Today the FEC announced that it is fining Senate Majority Leader [sw: Bill Frist] (R-TN) $11,000 for failing to properly report a $1.44 million loan that he took out for his 2000 re-election campaign.
In June 2000, Senator Frist took $1 million of the money that had been contributed to his 2000 Senate campaign and invested it in the stock market, where it promptly began losing money. In November 2000, Senator Frist sought to collect $1.2 million he had lent his 1994 Senate campaign committee. As a result of the stock market losses, however, Frist 2000, Inc. did not have enough money to repay the loan. Senator Frist solved this problem by having the 1994 and the 2000 campaign committees jointly take out a $1.44 million bank loan at a cost of $10,000 a month interest. Frist 2000, Inc. did not report this debt on its FEC disclosure forms.Continue reading
The AFL-CIO, the Chamber of Commerce, and other groups are asking the FEC to write new guidelines for political activity by outside groups in the months immediately preceding elections, according to the Washington Times. In January, Wisconsin Right to Life challenged the 30- to 60-day prohibition on outside groups that take corporate or union money from running advocacy ads that mention a candidate’s name. The Supreme Court ruled that “grass-roots groups have ways to lobby and mention the name of a federal candidate without being seen as actively campaigning.” The groups petitioning the FEC are asking for guidelines on what they can or cannot do in time for the 2006 elections.Continue reading
The state Republican Party has filed a complaint with the FEC charging that the Montana Democratic Party did not fully disclose their finances to the Federal Election Commission. According to the Associated Press, the state GOP is arguing that, “Democrats should have been filing monthly reports for being engaged in campaigning against Sen. Conrad Burns, a federal candidate under FEC rules.” The Democratic Party claims that it filed a six-month disclosure and does not need to file monthly, but did not elaborate.Continue reading