The Lonely Centrist

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Wednesday, July 27, 2005

The Reform Lobby Freaks Out

Fred Wertheimer, arguably the most naive man in America and the acknowledged godfather of the campaign finance "reform" movement, is freakin' out these days. The problem appears to be that there are 4 vacanices on the six member Federal Election Commission, and President Bush is refusing to nominate the people Wertheimer wants to fill those seats.

A quick word on FEC appointments - there are 6 Commissioners, by law 3 Democrats and 3 Republicans (many other bodies, such as the FCC, also have a certain number of seats reserved for the minority party). When Democratic seats come up in a Republican administration, or Republican seats in a Democratic Administration, the President typically defers to the congressional leaders of the minority party for nominees. So here, there are 2 GOP seats open, and 2 Democrat seats open. As usual, the President is defering to Democratic congressional leaders for the Democratic seats.

According to Roll Call (subscription req'd) Wertheimer is unimpressed with all 4 prospective appointees. He calls it, "a scandalous effort to throw Democrat Scott Thomas off the Federal Election Commission, the only Commissioner who has consistently supported the proper implementation and enforcement of the nation’s campaign finance laws." Thomas, who has been on the Commission since 1986, is regularly outvoted by his fellow commissioners, who, like Thomas, have taken an oath to properly enforce the law and the Constitution. His aggressive regulatory approach has frequently been rejected by the Courts, as well as by his colleagues, to which Thomas once responded simply by calling the Court "goofy" and "nonsensical." (See p. 4, second paragraph of link). But he does what Wertheimer wants, so he is OK.

Warming up, Wertheimer added of Steve Walther, a respected Nevada Attorney slated for one of the Democratic seats, that his "basic qualification for the job appears to be that he served as an attorney for Reid."

According to Roll Call, "Wertheimer also accused the Nevada Senator of going back on his support for the 2002 law and those that it preceded it." (Reid voted for McCain-Feingold.) Added Wertheimer, with what seems to be a bit of hysteria, "These four Commissioners are being chosen by Democratic and Republican Congressional leaders with the clear mandate to protect the interests of the leaders and their Congressional colleagues. If President Bush proceeds with these four appointments to the FEC, he will make the FEC a complete captive of the Congressional incumbents the agency is supposed to regulate, and the President will give the back of his hand to the interests of the American people in honest elections and government decision."

As I've noted before, Wertheimer has got to be one of the dumbest, or more likely most naive, men alive. (A third possibility, I suppose, is that he's just a demagogue). He seems to genuinely believe that every member of Congress is so desperate for re-election that they will sell out for a campaign contribution - but then believe that we can trust these same men not to use the power to regulate speech to help assure their re-election.

Note to Fred - of course members of Congress (and the President) are going to appoint people loyal to them. How stupid do you think they are?

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