What do Obama and McCain have in common? The same big donors, who will expect to have their way no matter who wins
Posted Aug 21, 2008 9:42 AM
Remember the total, hideous, inexcusable absence of oversight that has been the great hallmark of George Bush's America for almost eight years now? Well, now we're getting to see that same regulatory malfeasance applied to yet another cornerstone of our political system. The Federal Election Commission — the body that supposedly enforces campaign-finance laws in this country — has been out of business for more than six months. That's because Congress was dragging its feet over confirmation hearings for new FEC commissioners, leaving the agency without a quorum. The commission just started work again for the first time on July 10th under its new chairman, Donald McGahn, a classic Republican Party yahoo whose chief qualifications include representing Tom DeLay, the corrupt ex-speaker of the House, in matters of campaign finance.
Apart from the obvious absurdity of not having a functioning election-policing mechanism in an election year in the world's richest democracy, the late start by the FEC makes it almost impossible for the agency to do its job. The commission has a long-standing reluctance to take action in the last months before a vote, a policy designed to help prevent federal regulators from influencing election outcomes. Normally, the FEC tries to root out infractions and loopholes — fining campaigns for incomplete reporting, or for taking shortcuts around spending limits — in the early months of a campaign season. But that ship sailed way too long ago to take the stink off the 2008 race.
"The time for setting the ground rules was earlier," says Craig Holman, a lobbyist with the watchdog group Public Citizen. "There isn't time to do much now."