Progressives raise alarm over 'zombie' FEC as dark money fears permeate pivotal 2020 elections

Progressives raise alarm over 'zombie' FEC as dark money fears permeate pivotal 2020 elections
Image via Shutterstock.

A coalition of progressive groups on Monday urged President Donald Trump and Senate leaders to reconvene the Federal Elections Commission with a full slate of members committed to enforcing campaign finance laws in time for the 2020 general election with a full slate of members committed to enforcing campaign finance laws.

The coalition of 21 organizations — including the Campaign Legal Center (CLC), Public Citizen, Common Cause, Democracy 21, and CREW — called on the White House and Senate to appoint commissioners with an interest in enforcement in an open letter (pdf).

"To stop the explosion of secret election spending by wealthy special interests, the practice of nominating FEC Commissioners who carry water for those interests must end," CLC senior director and chief of staff Adav Noti said in a statement announcing the letter.

The coalition's missive was sent in response to a letter from January 6 written by 31 campaign finance attorneys calling on the FEC to immediately instate six commissioners to allow the body to continue its work.

Concerns over the issues presented in the election by a hamstrung FEC are not new.Common Dreams reported that advocates were last August warning of the problems to the election presented by the FEC's lack of quorum.

"It is beyond belief that in this presidential year of enormous consequence, the nation's campaign finance enforcement agency is defunct because it does not have enough commissioners for a quorum to take action to enforce the laws," Democracy 21 founder and president Fred Wertheimer said Monday.

In November, Center for Public Integrity editor-at-large Dave Levinthal noted that the lack of quorum would become a major problem if the FEC "zombie-walks into the teeth of Election 2020."

As of Monday, the FEC has been without a quorum for 135 days, said political advocacy group Issue One.

"It is imperative to get the campaign finance cop back on the beat as this nation enters what promises to be the most expensive election in history," Public Citizen government affairs lobbyist Craig Holman said in a statement. "But it is just as important that we get a functional campaign finance cop on the beat."

Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. AlterNet’s journalists work tirelessly to counter the traditional corporate media narrative. We’re here seven days a week, 365 days a year. And we’re proud to say that we’ve been bringing you the real, unfiltered news for 20 years—longer than any other progressive news site on the Internet.

It’s through the generosity of our supporters that we’re able to share with you all the underreported news you need to know. Independent journalism is increasingly imperiled; ads alone can’t pay our bills. AlterNet counts on readers like you to support our coverage. Did you enjoy content from David Cay Johnston, Common Dreams, Raw Story and Robert Reich? Opinion from Salon and Jim Hightower? Analysis by The Conversation? Then join the hundreds of readers who have supported AlterNet this year.

Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Help ensure AlterNet remains independent long into the future. Support progressive journalism with a one-time contribution to AlterNet, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you. Click here to donate by check.

alternet logo

Tough Times

Demand honest news. Help support AlterNet and our mission to keep you informed during this crisis.