Thursday, October 22, 2020

Senate Democrats Defunding Election Police

 This may be a story worth paying attention to after the elections. Maybe even now.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, is not just the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee but also on the ballot for reelection. His opponent, Jaime Harrison, has raised a whopping $57 million in campaign contributions, dwarfing Graham's fundraising. The same is true even in Texas, where incumbent John Cornyn (R) has been outraised 2:1.

Harrison is an impressive guy with a strong national network as a deputy chairman of the Democratic National Committee.

Here's the key factor. Democrats launched their very successful fundraising online fundraising arm, "ActBlue," a few years ago. The Republicans, following the 2018 elections, woke up and created 'WinRed," which also has been quite successful, but ActBlue is still way ahead.

However, a recent study by a non-profit organization found that about half of the reported contributions totaling millions of dollars came from those claiming to be unemployed. That should raise a big red flag in front of our election police, the Federal Election Commission. And, you would think, the media.

Here's the problem. The six-member FEC requires a quorum of 4 to authorize an investigation, or take any action. The FEC currently only has 3 commissioners.

The White House long ago nominated two Republicans for their vacancies (the FEC membership is split 3-3 between Democrats and Republicans). Senate Democrats appear to be refusing to cooperate with Senate Republicans and the White House on filling its lone vacancy, while at least one other commissioner is serving past her 6-year term. Why?

Several have suggested the possibility of foreign money being funneled into ActBlue's accounts. It is easier to hide since you have to contribute $200 or more towards an election for it to be publicly reported. There's no evidence of fraud that's emerged, but that's where an FEC audit would be useful. FEC auditors are pretty good at watching political campaign accounts, including PACs, but they're toothless without a quorum possible at the FEC.

Having run PACs and federal campaigns, pre- and post-election audits are essential to ensure election integrity. But the flags leading up to these audits are worrisome. Why are Senate Democrats playing games with the FEC while questions of financial impropriety are being raised?

Watch this space. It seems Democrats have defunded our national election police, and we need to be asking, why?

Disclosure: I was nominated to one of the FEC's Republican seats by President Clinton in 1996.

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