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Feinstein, Klobuchar Renew Call to Immediately Restore Quorum at FEC

Washington – Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) joined Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) on a letter to White House Counsel Pat Cipollone urging the administration to immediately nominate the bipartisan pair of candidates that have been submitted to President Trump by Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) to fill the current vacancies at the Federal Election Commission (FEC). As of August, there have been only three commissioners at the FEC, resulting in the first loss of a quorum since 2008 and rendering the FEC unable to hold meetings, promulgate rules, vote on enforcement matters, or fully enforce federal election laws. The Republican candidate has been formally nominated to the FEC, and recent reports indicate that there is no reason for delay in nominating the Democratic nominee, who has undergone months of vetting by the White House.

“The FEC is the independent regulatory agency responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws. Strong enforcement of campaign finance laws is essential to ensuring transparency and accountability in our democracy,” the members wrote. “In addition to the dangers associated with a lack of enforcement, the failure to restore a quorum is creating confusion and diminishing confidence in our election system.”

“No one should play politics with the independent agency responsible for enforcing our campaign finance laws; instead we should be working together to restore a quorum as soon as possible. A fully functioning FEC is critical to safeguarding our political system from corruption and foreign influence.”

Feinstein and Klobuchar were joined on the letter by Senators Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.), Michael Bennet (D-Colo.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Angus King (I-Maine), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tom Udall (D-N.M.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Mark Warner (D-Va.) and Ron Wyden (D-Ore.).

The full text of the letter can be found here and below:

Dear Mr. Cipollone:

We write to express significant concern regarding the fact that the Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been without a quorum for more than four months, and to urge the White House to immediately nominate the bipartisan pair of candidates that have been submitted to the White House by Leader McConnell and Leader Schumer to fill the current vacancies on the Commission.

The FEC is the independent regulatory agency responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws. Strong enforcement of campaign finance laws is essential to ensuring transparency and accountability in our democracy. Since Matthew Petersen resigned from the FEC on August 31st, the Commission has been without a quorum of commissioners. That’s 137 days without a fully functioning bipartisan agency to administer the laws that protect against corruption and foreign interference in our political system. It is past time to take action to restore a quorum.

Since losing a quorum, the FEC has been unable to carryout essential functions like issuing advisory opinions, conducting audits, issuing fines, holding public meetings, and voting on the outcome of investigations. This is unacceptable in any year, but especially so during an election year when our law enforcement and intelligence officials have warned that foreign adversaries are attempting to illegally influence our political system. According to the FEC’s End of Year Report, there are currently 35 pending cases that allege a violation on the ban against political spending by foreign-nationals, yet because it lacks a quorum, the FEC cannot take meaningful action to address the cases. This is unacceptable.

In addition to the dangers associated with a lack of enforcement, the failure to restore a quorum is creating confusion and diminishing confidence in our election system. Accordingly, a recent letter from a bipartisan group of campaign finance lawyers urges the White House to immediately restore a quorum at the Commission. The American people deserve a fully functioning FEC now; stalling for political strategy when there are currently two candidates ready to be nominated is wrong.

Traditionally, nominees to the FEC have been confirmed on a bipartisan basis. Consistent with that practice, the Democratic and Republican Leaders in the Senate have sent two candidates to the White House for consideration and nomination to the Commission. The Republican candidate has been formally nominated to the FEC, and reports indicate that there is no reason for delay in nominating the Democratic nominee, who has undergone months of vetting by the White House. No one should play politics with the independent agency responsible for enforcing our campaign finance laws; instead we should be working together to restore a quorum as soon as possible.

A fully functioning FEC is critical to safeguarding our political system from corruption and foreign influence. We respectfully request that the White House immediately nominate the bipartisan pair of candidates submitted to you in order to fill current vacancies on the Commission.

Sincerely,

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