Monday, June 24, 2013

Thank you to FEC Commissioner McGahn

In his entire time in office, President Obama has nominated just one person (who later withdrew his name) to the Federal Election Commission(FEC). As a result all the current FEC commissioners are currently serving expired terms.

That finally changed Friday with the nominations of Ann Ravel and Lee Goodman. Lee Goodman is a member of the RNLA Board of Governors and a former First Vice-President of RNLA.

RNLA will have more on Mr. Goodman later this week. We are very excited and pleased for Mr. Goodman who we know will do an outstanding job once he is confirmed by the Senate.

But today we wanted to take a moment to thank the three current Republican commissioners, Don McGahn, Caroline Hunter, and Matt Petersen. Despite pressure from the forces on the left that oppose free speech and other extremist liberal groups, the FEC for the last few years has done a very good job of standing up for what is right and not being intimidated.

While all three commissioners deserve credit for these efforts, Commissioner McGahn, who Mr. Goodman was nominated to replace, was a leader.

He tried, he said, to bring a strict legal perspective to a commission that had until then operated on an ad hoc basis.

"I think I've reframed the debate at the FEC. When I was first appointed, folks at the FEC rarely cited case law or even the statute -- they did a sort of common law, case by case approach on most things, without much thought or understanding of the real-world impact, and without a sense that they were being heard by the Commission," McGahn said in an email. "With me, people knew that I'd read the statute, take the case law seriously, and that I understood the practical impact, having made my living doing campaigns."

It is important to note that the Republican Commissioner McGahn did not act as a partisan, but instead, as someone who took the law seriously.


"He worked to preserve the rights of speakers with whom he disagreed as much as those with whom he agreed, and to enforce the law fairly," said Bradley Smith, a former FEC chairman and head of the Center for Competitive Politics, a group that has opposed efforts to strengthen campaign finance laws.

McGahn's admirers didn't fall strictly along partisan lines. On the commission, McGahn frequently sided with Democratic lawyers who sought clarification of campaign finance laws, or permission to push the boundaries of those laws into theretofore uncharted territory. McGahn and Marc Elias, a lawyer at Perkins Coie who counts most of the Senate Democratic caucus as his clients, had a particularly close working relationship.

All those interested in free speech and honest elections owe Commissioner McGahn a debt of gratitude for his service of four years beyond his terms expiration in 2009. As Commissioner McGahn stated:

In a statement, Mr. McGahn applauded the president for“finally” nominating a GOP replacement, but also took a swipe at his opponents inside the commission.

“As many well know, I have long desired to leave, but committed to stay to prevent the FEC from further trampling on our First Amendment and Due Process Rights,” he said.

Thank you Commissioner McGahn.


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