Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New FEC Commissioner Apologizes for Groundless Accusations

FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel’s erroneous statements in her previous position raise questions about her partiality, competence.

Nothing seemingly makes leftist ideologues more apoplectic than the specter of secretive billionaires supposedly tainting the democratic process with “dark money.” And in the liberal consciousness, the Koch brothers—with their unwavering dedication to political and economic freedom—stand out in the pantheon of political boogeymen. 

So ingrained is this bias toward the Koch brothers that liberals routinely substitute innuendo and hearsay for facts when allegations arise involving them or their affiliations.

Such was the case with recently confirmed FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel in her last act as head of California’s Fair Political Practices Commission. In multiple settings, Ms. Ravel baselessly accused the “Koch Brothers network” of violating California campaign finance law, only to later recant to a Los Angeles TV station.

The case centers on the transfer of money from a Virginia and two Arizona nonprofits to a couple of California entities conducting independent expenditures for ballot measures last year.

Ms. Ravel, apparently seizing on hearsay statements and guilt-by-association relationships, implicated the Koch brothers repeatedly, including specifically invoking their names multiple times in a press conference announcing the settlement of the case.

Only one problem existed with Ms. Ravel’s claims: they weren’t true. In fact, Kochs had put out multiple statements to the press and on their own website denying they, or any of their corporate or political affiliations, had been involved in the undisclosed transfers. And they actually opposed one of the ballot measures, which would have restricted the rights of employees to contribute to candidates.

But this inconvenient fact did not stop Ms. Ravel from repeatedly accusing the “Koch Network” of wrongdoing. Her statements in turn predictably catalyzed a media frenzy, fueling the well-worn narrative of Koch “dark money” corroding our democracy.

Ms. Ravel finally came clean in a Saturday interview with a California television station after being safely confirmed as an FEC commissioner. “It was not the Koch brothers . . . The Koch brothers have never been implicated themselves as having been direct donors.” Of course, neither have any of their corporate or political affiliations, which she conveniently omitted. 

Ms. Ravel’s erroneous accusations raise questions about her competency and her ability to decide complex federal campaign finance issues impartially. The FEC will continue to operate at a suboptimal level if Ms. Ravel brings to it preconceived prejudices instead of an objective desire for truth.

[This post was written by Paul Jossey.]

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