Strategy Room: Sarah Badawi and Brian Morgenstern on how President Trump will handle open spot on commission.
Real FEC reform would be the opposite of what Ann Ravel and her Democratic colleagues want.
Jeremy Carl writes: When Ann Ravel, a Democratic member of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), announced her intention to resign Sunday, she received, as she has throughout her tenure at the FEC, a surprising amount of news coverage. While her departure may not immediately change the partisan balance of the commission, because traditionally her seat “belongs” to the Democrats, President Trump could upset that calculation if he broke with that tradition and appointed someone more aligned with the GOP (though he is not allowed to pick a registered Republican for the seat).
Ravel had become a minor political celebrity (even earning a Daily Show appearance) on the left by castigating the “deadlock” on the FEC allegedly caused by the GOP members, who wouldn’t go along with Democratic demands for campaign-finance fines.
Ravel’s resignation letter is filled with the same sort of tired Democratic rhetoric on campaign finance, demanding the overturning of Citizens United, pushing for expanded public (i.e., taxpayer) financing of political campaigns, and decrying the evils of “dark money.”
Yet President Trump showed the complete intellectual bankruptcy of the campaign-finance “reform” movement in his stunning presidential-election victory. According to the FEC’s own data, among large donors ($2,000+), Hillary Clinton out-raised Trump $175 million to $27 million, a ratio of 6.5 to 1. Despite this, and the almost unanimous support she enjoyed from our media and cultural elites, Clinton couldn’t defeat Trump. Furthermore, Bernie Sanders, an eccentric and aging socialist with no establishment backing, came close to beating Hillary in the Democratic primary despite being outspent among those same $2,000+ donors by a ratio of more than 50 to 1.
Meanwhile, in one of the most remarkable yet least reported facts about the 2016 campaign, Jeb Bush, who entered the race to a wave of publicity before going out with a whimper early in the GOP primary, raised essentially as much ($26 million) in his brief campaign from those $2,000+ donors as Trump did from this group during the entire primary and general-election cycle. Read the rest of this entry »
In a surprise move late Friday, a key Democrat on the Federal Election Commission called for burdensome new rules on Internet-based campaigning, prompting the Republican chairman to warn that Democrats want to regulate online political sites and even news media like the Drudge Report.
Democratic FEC Vice Chair Ann M. Ravel announced plans to begin the process to win regulations on Internet-based campaigns and videos, currently free from most of the FEC’s rules. “A reexamination of the commission’s approach to the internet and other emerging technologies is long over due,” she said.
“Regrettably, the 3-to-3 vote in this matter suggests a desire to retreat from these important protections for online political speech — a shift in course that could threaten the continued development of the Internet’s virtual free marketplace of political ideas and democratic debate.”
The power play followed a deadlocked 3-3 vote on whether an Ohio anti-President Obama Internet campaign featuring two videos violated FEC rules when it did not report its finances or offer a disclosure on the ads. The ads were placed for free on YouTube and were not paid advertising.
Under a 2006 FEC rule, free political videos and advocacy sites have been free of regulation in a bid to boost voter participation in politics. Only Internet videos that are placed for a fee on websites, such as the Washington Examiner, are regulated just like normal TV ads. Read the rest of this entry »
SMIDGEN REPORT: Tweets from FEC Employee who Admitted to Violating Hatch Act Prior to Hard Drive Being RecycledPosted: July 15, 2014
— Darrell Issa (@DarrellIssa) July 15, 2014
The Daily Caller‘s Chuck Ross reports that the Federal Election Commission recycled the computer hard drive of April Sands — a former co-worker of Lois Lerner’s — hindering an investigation into Sands’ partisan political activities, according to the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
“Dear every single Republican ever, When will U learn that Barack Hussein Obama is simply smarter than U? Stand down, Signed #Obama2012 #p2”
— April Sands, former co-worker of Lois Lerner
Sands resigned from the Federal Election Commission in April after she admitted to violating the Hatch Act, which bars executive branch employees from engaging in partisan political activities on federal time and at federal facilities.
The twist is that Sands also worked under Lois Lerner when the ex-IRS agent — who is currently embroiled in a scandal over the targeting of conservative political groups — worked at the FEC’s enforcement division.
In a letter to FEC chairman Lee Goodman, Oversight chairman Darrell Issa and committee member Jim Jordan laid out Sands’ partisan activities and asked for records pertaining to the recycling of her hard drive and of the agency’s records retention policies.
“The bias in these messages is striking, especially for an attorney charged with the responsibility to enforce federal election laws fairly and dispassionately.”
— Oversight letter to Goodman
Sands took part in a heavily partisan online webcam discussion from FEC offices and also operated a Twitter account with the handle @ReignOfApril which were sent during Sands’ normal working hours. Read the rest of this entry »