For years, critics have argued the Federal Election Commission has been effectively broken. Now MAGA-land is going to court to make sure it stays that way.
The FEC is charged with civil enforcement of campaign finance laws, but in recent years Republican commissioners have opted not to take action in a slew of cases—even after the agency’s own attorneys have found reason to believe laws were violated. The continual deadlock has led to accusations that the agency is broken and neglecting its duty.
Recently, however, Democratic commissioners found a way around the deadlock, opening a path through the courts if the Republicans fail to act. But it’s a long process, and now three committees with Trumpworld ties—the campaign for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), the National Rifle Association, and a pro-Trump outside group called the 45Committee—are fighting back with their own lawsuits in hopes of thwarting the thwarters.
Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub told The Daily Beast that these Republicans are “perfectly happy” with the status quo.
“Unfortunately, there are some people who want to see it stay broken,” Weintraub said. “They’re perfectly happy with us failing to act. That’s a good thing to them. But they don’t get to control all the outcomes.”
All three of the committees suing the FEC were accused of campaign finance violations, and all three escaped action with a deadlocked vote.
45Committee, a nonprofit organization, was accused by the Campaign Legal Center in 2018 of improperly spending tens of millions of dollars in support of candidates during the 2016 election, including Donald Trump. Three years later, the FEC deadlocked on an enforcement decision, and CLC sued 45Committee directly in D.C. federal court this April.
The NRA and the Hawley campaign are involved in a separate action, involving an allegedly illegal, multimillion-dollar coordination scheme. They also benefited from the deadlock rule, and now face a federal suit, also in the D.C. circuit, from CLC and gun control group Giffords.