- The Washington Times - Monday, February 4, 2008

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Thanks to partisan gridlock, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) lacks four of its six commissioners, and with only two members currently in place, the body does not have the minimum quorum of four commisioners needed to hold an authoritative vote on FEC business.

The problem isn’t that candidates haven’t been identified to fill these seats; indeed, they have been named by President Bush based on recommendations from the Senate. Unfortunately, Democrats, including Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois and Sen. Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, are refusing to allow Republicans to select their own nominees for the body, which by statute consists of three Democrats and three Republicans. These Democratic senators are hoping to force Republicans to break with established procedure and are attempting to derail their opponents’ picks to this institution made up of overtly partisan players.

Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC chairman who was approved in tandem with a Democratic nominee for a seat on the commission in 2000 and was later named FEC chairman in 2004, told The Washington Times that this current squabble flies in the face of longstanding precedence. Mr. Smith, now a professor at Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio, noted that while there is no written rule forcing the Senate to vote on nominees in pairs or as a package, this is how things have been practiced to allow a measure of b-partisanship and civility. However, in this current case, Senate Democrats want to split up these four nominees and hold individual votes, rather than allowing Republicans the courtesy of selecting their own prefered candidates and allowing the Senate to either approve or reject the parties’ selections.

The FEC is comprised of a small but important body of admministrators who have the ability to to influence elections, especially during this crucial season. Senate Democrats, who repeatedly claim they want to reach across the aisle, should act on their flowery promises.

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