For Immediate Release
Garrett Russo 202.408.5565
CREW: FEC Commissioners Are Actors Impersonating Public Servants
WASHINGTON - Despite being tasked with monitoring an election cycle in which $4
billion was spent, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) obtained
penalties in only 34 cases, 86 percent fewer than in 2009. The toothless
agency collected a paltry $860,000 in fines, a far cry from the $6.71
million in fines levied following the 2006 midterms. The troubling
absence of enforcement has led Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in
Washington (CREW) to suspect something more than incompetence may be
"Clearly something nefarious has happened at the FEC. Obtaining
penalties in only 34 cases is absurd. There is simply no logical
explanation for such an important federal agency becoming such a
toothless joke," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "It's time
for President Obama to step up and decide that bad actors belong in B
movies, not in the agency charged with protecting our elections and
In just the past month, the toothless commission has chosen to ignore
several high profile and blatant violations of election law. In Nevada,
it inexplicably believed the parents of Senator John Ensign (R-NV), who
claimed the $96,000 payoff to the family of their son's mistress was a
gift, despite ample evidence to the contrary. In the FEC's defense, in
the history of the world, no parent has ever lied to protect a child.
Meanwhile in Louisiana,
the commission willfully ignored clear evidence showing the U.S. Dry
Cleaning Corporation illegally reimbursed employees for donations to
Senator David Vitter (R-LA), with the understanding that Sen. Vitter
show his gratitude for the donations by securing federal funding for the
"The FEC's budget for 2010 was $66.5 million. What exactly is the
American public getting for that money?" said Sloan. "The incoming
Republican majority has promised to zealously attack wasteful government
spending in the 112th Congress. The FEC in its current form would be a wonderful place to start."
By law, no more than three of its six commissioners can belong to the
same political party and the FEC cannot act on anything unless at least
four commissioners agree. Because of this, the commission is frequently
deadlocked on enforcement matters. Commissioners are appointed on a
rotating basis for six year terms, meaning - at least in theory - that
two seats are open for appointment every two years. It doesn't get past
the theoretical level, however, because in reality, commissioners don't
leave until their replacements have been confirmed. Half of the current
commissioners have overstayed their terms.
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Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to promoting ethics and accountability in government and public life by targeting government officials -- regardless of party affiliation -- who sacrifice the common good to special interests. CREW advances its mission using a combination of research, litigation and media outreach.