Bill Abolishing FEC to Be Introduced

Posted July 9, 2003 at 6:43pm

The same folks who brought the nation campaign finance reform are officially declaring war on the Federal Election Commission.

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.), along with Reps. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) and Marty Meehan (D-Mass.), today will unveil legislation to abolish the FEC and create a new agency to enforce the nation’s campaign laws.

FEC Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub on Wednesday declined to comment on the Congressional initiative, saying only that “generally” she is “not in favor of abolishing the agency.”

But others praised the effort as the next logical step in the campaign finance battle.

“Obviously, this is the beginning of an effort to address a very serious campaign finance problem,” said Democracy 21’s Fred Wertheimer, a supporter of the effort.

“The FEC has a long history of failure and played a central role in creating the soft-money problem and then when Congress enacted a law to ban soft money, the FEC proceeded to adopt regulations that undermine the new law before it even took effect,” he said.

Wertheimer added that “in order to have effective campaign finance laws, you need to have effective oversight and enforcement, and we simply have not gotten that from the Federal Election Commission.”

Congress, he said, “ought to have the same interest in effective oversight and enforcement of laws that cover their own activities that the Congress has shown in terms of the laws that apply to the rest of us.”

Last year, Democracy 21 released a report blasting the FEC and recommending that Congress replace the six-member watchdog agency with a new agency under the supervision of a single administrator.

The lawmakers will unveil the details of their proposal at a noon press conference.