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FEC Chairwoman: FEC Unable To Regulate Money In Elections

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It’s official, the FEC is a failed government agency. That view, long held by observers of American elections, has now been openly confirmed by the leader of the agency itself. FEC Chairwoman Ann Ravel told the New York Times that the FEC is unable to substantively enforce election laws which means the agency is effectively worthless.

This situation is mostly be design, the FEC is split 3-3 between Republicans and Democrats and neither side has an interest in regulating money in politics generally, nor their particular constituencies especially. Throw in new court rulings such as Citizens United and it becomes less clear what the laws the FEC is charged with enforcing even mean.

That dynamic ensures regulatory failure, something the current FEC chairwoman appears to know all too well.

“The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim,” Ann M. Ravel, the chairwoman, said in an interview. “I never want to give up, but I’m not under any illusions. People think the F.E.C. is dysfunctional. It’s worse than dysfunctional.” Her unusually frank assessment reflects a worsening stalemate among the agency’s six commissioners. They are perpetually locked in 3-to-3 ties along party lines on key votes because of a fundamental disagreement over the mandate of the commission, which was created 40 years ago in response to the political corruption of Watergate…

The F.E.C.’s paralysis comes at a particularly critical time because of the sea change brought about by the Supreme Court’s decision in 2010 in the Citizens United case, which freed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates. Billionaire donors and “super PACs” are already gaining an outsize role in the 2016 campaign, and the lines have become increasingly stretched and blurred over what presidential candidates and political groups are allowed to do…“The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore,” said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner.

So here we are, a country with no real restrictions on money in politics. America has solved its bribery problem by legalizing bribery. Perhaps this is why bringing corruption charges is left to the FBI and the minute charges are dropped people scream politics and cite numerous examples of the same behavior by other public officials who aren’t being charged with anything.

In any case, having a political system driven first and foremost by money predestines a plutocracy. It would actually be odd if academics studying American politics and government came to some other conclusion. The republic has fallen, now we vote as increasingly minor shareholders for who will serve on America’s board of directors and manage state assets on behalf of the 1%. Good times.

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Dan Wright

Dan Wright

Daniel Wright is a longtime blogger and currently writes for Shadowproof. He lives in New Jersey, by choice.