At Last

Posted June 10, 2008 at 6:27pm

As early as next week, the Senate may take up a slate of Federal Election Commission nominees that could have the agency back in business within weeks.

[IMGCAP(1)]A Republican Senate leadership aide told Roll Call on Tuesday that the final piece to the puzzle, Republican nominee Matt Petersen’s background check, could be finalized by Friday and that a vote on the full five-commissioner slate may come as early as next week.

Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office declined to comment on the FEC commissioners until Petersen’s background check is finalized.

Petersen, a Senate Rules and Administration Committee staffer, was named unexpectedly late last month to replace Hans von Spakovsky. The former Justice Department lawyer withdrew his name after now-presumptive presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and other lawmakers joined with civil rights groups late last year in opposing von Spakovsky’s nomination.

Petersen would complete the trio of GOP agency nominees that includes Don McGahn, a lawyer in private practice, and Caroline Hunter, who now sits on the Election Assistance Commission. Democrats are putting forth Cynthia Bauerly, an aide to Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.) and Steve Walther, also a lawyer in private practice, to join sitting commissioner Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat.

Tuesday’s confirmation that the prolonged FEC nomination process likely

is in its final throes suggests recent objections to McGahn’s nomination by outside groups are not gaining traction on Capitol Hill.

Last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington came out against McGahn’s nomination, demanding that Rules Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) hold another hearing to examine malpractice allegations brought by a former client.

CREW claimed that recently unearthed court records show that McGahn, who once did legal work for ex-House Majority Leader Tom DeLay’s (R-Texas) political action committee, or ARMPAC, may have engaged in “allegedly improper conduct” when he settled a court case.

“Former ARMPAC treasurer Corwin Teltschik has sued Mr. McGahn for malpractice in federal court for settling the case, which included claims against Mr. Teltschik, without his knowledge or consent,” CREW spokeswoman Melanie Sloan said in a recent statement. “If Donald McGahn committed malpractice in settling a campaign finance matter, clearly he cannot lead the agency charged with enforcing those very same laws.”

Keeping Up With the Joneses. A new analysis released by Federal Election Commission earlier this week offers few surprises about the state of political fundraising nationally, but some of the study’s breakout data show stark differences between the individual committees and their income sources this cycle.

Most notable: Democratic lawmakers are outpacing Republicans in giving to House committees by roughly 2-to-1, with Members in the majority handing over about $23 million to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee while GOPers have coughed up just $11.6 million to the National Republican Congressional Committee.

Also, according to the FEC’s calculations, the Democratic National Committee, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the DCCC increased their take by roughly one-quarter since the 2006 mid-terms and by nearly 50 percent since the last presidential election in 2004.

All told this cycle, the three Democratic committees raised nearly $250 million through April 30. About three-quarters of that total, or $210 million, was from checks written by individuals, while political action committees gave Democrats about $50 million.

And despite their minority status in Congress, the three main GOP committees, the Republican National Committee, the National Republican Senatorial Committee and the NRCC are actually winning the money race this cycle, raising just more than $260 million through April 30.

More than $245 million — 86 percent — of the GOP’s total was from individuals, while $30 million was from PACs. The GOP committees’ overall take is down about 20 percent from the last presidential election year, according to the agency’s analysis.

The RNC was the top fundraiser of the three, bringing in $143 million so far this cycle.

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