Statement of Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist, Public Citizen
Note: As the nation heads into the 2020 election cycle – an election that likely will reach an all-time spending record – the agency that monitors and enforces compliance with campaign finance laws on Saturday will lose the voting quorum to take any official actions due to the resignation of its vice chair. With only three members left on the six-member Federal Election Commission (FEC), the agency cannot meet, adopt rules and regulations, offer formal advice to candidates and committees, or enforce the law.
A Category 6 hurricane of Big Money is barreling toward us in 2020, and now the nation’s first responders are unable to act. Heading into what is sure to be the most expensive election in history, our nation’s campaign finance watchdog, the FEC, is now closed for business. And it won’t reopen until new commissioners are chosen and confirmed.
In ordinary times, we’d call on the president and the U.S. Senate to immediately fill the vacant FEC positions to prepare for the expected $8 billion in political spending in the 2020 elections. But who are we kidding? We already know they won’t – and that U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will wring her hands in a practiced display of feigned disappointment.
President Donald Trump and many Senate Republicans – chief among them, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) – are openly contemptuous of campaign finance limits or electioneering rules of any kind and have shown they’re eager to lie, cheat, steal and rig elections to keep themselves and their party in power. Anti-government extremists in their party have for decades tried to shut down watchdog agencies and put billionaires and big corporations in charge. Now they’ve succeeded.
The question is whether Senate Democrats, the press and the public will raise holy hell to put a campaign finance cop back on the beat or meekly acquiesce to yet another Republican scheme to shut down a vital public interest watchdog in government and rig the political system in their favor.