Bush Proposes FEC Deal

Posted May 6, 2008 at 5:40pm

President Bush laid out a proposal Tuesday to revive the Federal Election Commission, but the deal has uncertain prospects given long-standing Democratic protests about former Justice Department lawyer and FEC nominee Hans von Spakovsky.

The White House “proposed a fair and clear path forward that completely incorporates Sen. Reid’s proposals for the three Democratic seats on the Commission and ensures our shared goal of a fully functioning six member FEC in the immediate future,” administration spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said in a statement. “We strongly encourage the Senate to act swiftly on these nominations so that we can have a fully functioning six member FEC by Memorial Day.”

In the new White House plan, Democrats would nominate Cynthia Bauerly, a lawyer to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), to fill the Democratic seat previously held by former FEC Chairman Robert Lenhard.

After months of enduring the nomination standoff, Lenhard last month asked that his nomination be withdrawn.

The administration’s plan also calls for offering up longtime Republican FEC commissioner and current Chairman David Mason as a sacrifice. He would be replaced by Donald McGahn of the law firm McGahn & Associates.

The White House also has proposed that Caroline Hunter, who now sits on the Election Assistance Commission, would take the seat previously held by Michael Toner.

Ellen Weintraub would remain on the commission, according to the deal, and the Senate would then vote the nominations of Steven Walther and von Spakovsky.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) immediately criticized the White House proposal and accused the administration of “abandon[ing] experience and independence for partisan loyalty” by withdrawing Mason’s nomination.

“That is the White House’s choice … it is a regrettable one,” Reid spokesman Jim Manley said. “Nonetheless, we will work towards the confirmation of the remaining nominees and expect to defeat von Spakovsky. We will work to ensure that the commission is constituted so that it will be able to function in this election year.”

— Matthew Murray