Led by its two newest members, the Federal Election Commission will finally revise its regulations following the landmark Supreme Court cases Citizens United v. FEC and McCutcheon v. FEC.
“These rules are like fine wine. They’ve been four years in the making,” stated FEC Chairman Republican Lee E. Goodman, who arrived at the Commission last October. Democrat Ann M. Ravel, the FEC’s other relative neophyte echoed that sentiment, “It’s important to give guidance,” she stated.
The agreement would institutionalize the holdings of both Citizens United and McCutcheon through three rulemakings. The third will be an “advance notice,” which seeks public comment on whether current regulations on topics such as earmarking, anti-proliferation, and disclosure are adequate. Justice Roberts raised questions concerning all three topics in McCutcheon. And it is part of the Commission’s duty to seek public input on their clarity and viability as anti-corruption and anti-circumvention measures.
The RNLA supports the rulemakings and applauds the Commissioners and staff who brought about this agreement. This positive development will provide clarity to the practitioners, candidates, and others whose activities are regulated under the Federal Election Campaign Act.
The mood of conciliation at the FEC stands in stark contrast to the political gamesmanship Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is currently engaging in on Capitol Hill. While FEC Commissioners seek to move forward from the stale battles and needless invective that followed these two cases, Senate Democrats are producing political theater with a constitutional amendment everyone knows is doomed.
Reid and his cohorts are playing politics with the First Amendment to try to manufacture a political issue before the mid-terms. “It’s painfully clear the majority leader’s priorities have to do with Nov. 4 . . . it’s all politics all the time, no matter what.” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas). But the American people have no desire to have their voices neutered by obstructionist Democrats who are upset they can cannot control every aspect of political debate about government.
The Supreme Court correctly decided both Citizens United and McCutcheon based on first principles, First Amendment doctrine, and controlling precedent, while overturning a few outlier cases and statutory provisions. Senate Democrats should take a lesson from the FEC and accept that a more freedom-based campaign finance system is here to stay.
The RNLA looks forward to having sufficient time to comment on the FEC Rulemakings to aid the Commission in revising these important regulations.
By Paul Jossey