The Record: Jackson: Election watchdog missing some teeth

Herb Jackson
May 1, 2016
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“Where things are clear-cut — non-filers, late filers — you will occasionally get four votes,” said Larry Noble, a former general counsel to the FEC now at the Campaign Legal Center, an advocacy group that has pushed the FEC to be tougher by filing complaints and even suing the commission.

“But they split 3-3 on a lot of things,” Noble said. “And it’s not partisan as much as it’s ideological. It’s not like the Republicans are saying they want to let all the Republicans off the hook. The Republicans will not vote for enforcement against Republicans or Democrats, while the Democrats will vote for enforcement against both Democrats and Republicans...

Last week, Noble’s organization and another called Democracy 21 sued the FEC, claiming it is failing to do its job to enforce the law that prohibits giving a contribution in someone else’s name, commonly known as using “straw donors...

The reform groups wanted the FEC to use the straw donor law to punish wealthy donors who, they claim in that lawsuit, created limited liability corporations, or LLCs, for the sole purpose of concealing the source of contributions.

The Campaign Legal Center filed complaints with the FEC asking it to look into both of those contributions. And after seeing several similar complaints dismissed because the commission deadlocked, it’s now suing to get courts to weigh in.

In last week’s announcement of the lawsuit, Noble said that by taking no action, the FEC is “sanctioning the intentional undermining of the integrity of campaign finance disclosure.”

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