WASHINGTON - August 29 - The following statement was released today by Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer:
Democracy 21 strongly applauds the votes cast today by three FEC Commissioners to reject a proposed ''emergency'' regulation by FEC Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky that would have violated administrative procedure rules applicable to the FEC, contradicted the positions being taken by the FEC in two pending lawsuits, opened a major loophole in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA) and on its face violated the statutory language of BCRA.
FEC Vice-Chairman Robert Lenhard and Commissioners Ellen Weintraub and Steven Walther deserve great credit for voting today against the irresponsible proposal offered by Commissioner von Spakovsky and unfortunately supported by two other Commissioners, Chairman Michael Toner and David Mason.
Under FEC rules, the 3-3 tie vote resulted in the defeat of the proposed new regulation.
The von Spakovsky proposal, made in the guise of an ''emergency'' regulation, even though the issued had been pending at the FEC since February, was an effort to jam through a new regulation without the time required by law for the public to comment.
The proposal also was in direct conflict with the position correctly being taken by the FEC in the courts to defend the constitutionality of the BCRA ''electioneering communications'' provisions, and to prevent a major loophole being opened in the law for sham ''issue ads.''
The von Spakovsky proposal itself would have opened a major campaign finance loophole in BCRA and allowed corporations and labor unions again to use their organizational funds to finance campaign ads in the guise of ''issue ads.''
This loophole-opening proposal was originally made by interest groups ranging from the AFL-CIO and the National Education Association to the Chamber of Commerce.
To their credit, the three Democratic Commissioners in voting against the von Spakovsky proposal rejected the views of the pro- Democratic groups who supported the adoption of a new regulation. In voting for the von Spakovsky proposal, the three Republican Commissioners supported a proposed regulation that if adopted would have violated the FEC's own obligations under administrative procedure rules, contradicted the FEC's own litigating position in the courts and undermined the law that the FEC is suppose to enforce.
Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center filed comments with the FEC opposing the proposed rule. A copy of the comments is available at http://www.democracy21.org.