CREW Report Reveals Republican FEC Commissioners Working in Concert with Outside Allies
Washington, D.C. – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) issued a report revealing the three Republican members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are working in concert with Republican campaign finance attorneys and outside groups to undermine election laws and thwart enforcement of what laws remain after the Citizens United decision.
“We’ve always known the FEC was an incredibly dysfunctional agency, but this new information uncovered by CREW shows how incestuous the relationship between the Republican commissioners and outside activists really is,” said CREW Chief Counsel Anne Weismann. “This only further proves that fundamental structural reform is needed at the FEC.”
Over the last several years, Republican commissioners Donald McGahn, Matthew Petersen, and Caroline Hunter have brought the FEC to a virtual standstill by routinely ignoring staff recommendations to take enforcement actions and blocking needed regulations. Using the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), CREW set out to learn how closely the Republican commissioners have been coordinating with Republican lawyers and outside groups, and whether any of those contacts crossed the line into ex parte communications banned during many types of FEC proceedings and that must be reported to an ethics officer or noted in the public record.
Documents show Commissioner McGahn appears to have engaged in an ex parte communication that should have been disclosed in the public record of a rulemaking proceeding. The documents also demonstrate the support of Republican lawyers and outside groups for the agenda of the Republican commissioners.
Additionally, on the day Commissioner Hunter published an op-ed contending the FEC has diligently pursued enforcement, Cleta Mitchell, a prominent Republican attorney, heaped praise on her. “Hang in there - you’re doing great,” Ms. Mitchell gushed, “you’re all doing the Lord’s work and we are very grateful that finally the rule of law seems to have arisen at the FEC!!” Similarly, Republican lawyers and outside groups thanked the Republican commissioners for substantive FEC decisions, including those concluding no enforcement actions were necessary.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Jordan Libowitz at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.