Politics stifle federal election agency

Split board kills ability for oversight

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Mr. Brumas declined to comment on whether the senator was satisfied with the commission’s performance, but said he would not characterize him as opposed to enforcement of campaign finance law.

“What I would say is that he’s a supporter of free speech,” he said.

Mr. Noble said such value judgments are the province of legislatures and courts, not enforcement panels.

“The problem with that is it’s not up to the commissioners of a regulatory agency to revisit interpretation of the law,” he said.

In some ways, the heightened party discipline mirrors that in Congress, Mr. Noble said.

“There’d always be the danger they’d split on a hot-button issue, but on both sides of the aisle there was an identity with the agency itself. They understood the agency had to function. Sometimes it was 6-0, sometimes it was 4-2, but there was always at least a commissioner who was the swing vote,” Mr. Noble said.

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