May 15, 2009

Franz on FEC Deadlocks

Responding to this post, Mike Franz sends along the following thoughts:

    I saw your post on FEC deadlocks--I've been pondering this myself, especially in light of my forthcoming piece. I don't have the vote data updated yet for this current time period, but my suspicion is that this is very unprecedented. And very much an indication of increased partisanship on the Commission.

    If I read the Wal-Mart statements correctly (and I only scanned them), the Democratic Commissioners voted against the advice of the General Counsel's report. Granted, this action was for stronger regulation, but the perception--I believe--is that GOP commissioners "disrupt" the regulatory process by dissenting from the Democratic Commissioners' AND the General Counsel's desire to more strongly enforce the law. In other words, in the Wal-Mart case, the GOP commissioners were voting WITH the recommended legal advice.

    All told, the argument I make in the paper, that Commissioners dissent more often now than in years past, is confirmed with the FEC in the last year (this despite my not having the data on this last year). But I don't think I expected this many 3-3 splits. I still feel that much of this current partisanship is driven by serious disagreement about the scope of the law, and not a conscious project by GOP commissioners to undermine the spirit of the law. But maybe these views are not all that different at the end of the day.

Posted by Rick Hasen at May 15, 2009 12:05 PM