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
Last week it seemed almost inevitable that Hans Von Spakovsky, a nominee to the Federal Election Commission and former Justice Department employee with a track record of minority voter suppression, would sail through the Senate after he was reported out of the Rules and Administration Committee in a block with the other three FEC nominees. Sen. Mitch McConnell wanted the group of four voted on as a package in the full Senate as well and Majority Leader Sen. Harry Reid looked to be acquiescing to these demands.
The Unanimous Consent vote was expected to happen today but a group of Democrats, led by Sen. Russ Feingold and Sen. Barack Obama, has decided to throw a wrench into these plans. Feingold and Obama are not only demanding that Von Spakovsky receive a separate vote from the other FEC candidates -- much like Bradley Smith did back in 2000 -- but that he reach the 60 vote threshold that has become increasingly the norm in the Senate. Sources say that other Senators are joining this cause including Sen. John Kerry and Sen. Sherrod Brown. I wrote last week that we should "hope the Senate will try to restore some respect for the commission and find a way to block this nomination," and apparently some Senators are willing to do so. Good for them.Continue reading