- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 25, 2002

Sen. John McCain vowed yesterday to block confirmation of all Bush administration nominations until a lame-duck Federal Election Commission member is replaced.
In a letter to Senate leaders, the Arizona Republican pledged to object to action on "any nominee" unless Ellen Weintraub is confirmed by early August or President Bush agrees to bypass the Senate and make the appointment on his own.
Miss Weintraub is in line to replace Karl Sandstrom as one of three Democratic members on the six-person FEC. While the administration is expected to nominate her, officials said her appointment is in the early stages of what could be a lengthy FBI background check.
Mr. McCain accuses Mr. Sandstrom of undermining in the regulation-writing process the campaign-finance bill the Arizona Republican pushed through Congress this year.
Responding the McCain letter, White House spokeswoman Anne Womack said, "There are a number of very important nominations that have been waiting a long time for confirmation."
"We will continue to work with both sides of the aisle to ensure they get a fair up-or-down vote on the Senate floor as quickly as possible," she said.
Mr. Sandstrom sided with three Republicans last week on a series of 4-2 votes on regulations related to implementing Mr. McCain's campaign-finance bill.
Mr. McCain and other supporters of the legislation have sharply criticized the regulations, claiming they open loopholes in legislation designed to bar the unlimited donations that unions, corporations and wealthy individuals make to the political parties.
Mr. Sandstrom has said his goal was to make sure state and local candidates would not be swept into excessive FEC scrutiny that would curtail their ability to conduct voter-registration drives and other party activities.
But in identical letters to Majority Leader Tom Daschle of South Dakota and Minority Leader Trent Lott of Mississippi, Mr. McCain wrote, "In light of recent actions by the FEC to undermine the bipartisan campaign-finance reform act, it is critical that Ellen Weintraub, who has been recommended for a seat on the commission, be appointed as soon as possible."
In his letter, Mr. McCain also suggested that Mr. Bush take an action senators customarily oppose making "recess appointments" that do not require Senate confirmation.
Mr. Daschle recommended Miss Weintraub for appointment to the FEC in May. She specializes in election law and works for a Washington law firm. Her clients have included Mr. Daschle's political-action committees as well as other Democratic PACs.
Sen. Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, has said he will block her confirmation until Democrats agree to confirm more judicial nominees.

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