U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) says the Federal Election Commission can’t enforce existing campaign finance laws ahead of a presidential election which could generate $10 billion in spending.
Durbin says there are enough problems with money in politics thanks to the Citizens Uniteddecision, which has allowed greater campaign influence by corporations, billionaire donors, and “super PACs.” But another issue heading in the 2016 campaign is the lack of action by the agency in charge of regulating how political cash is raised and spent.
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“The Federal Election Commission has been defanged. They’ve taken away virtually all of their authority and power to enforce existing laws,” Durbin said. “No matter what comes up, it’s very hard to get this deadlocked Federal Election Commission to do anything.”
In an interview with the New York Times, FEC chairman Ann Ravel blames the agency’s Republican commissioners, claiming they don’t want to act on violations of campaign finance law “except in the most obvious cases.”
Examples given by Ravel include complaints that potential presidential candidates such as former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley are getting around laws about disclosing political donors by raising millions without officially declaring their candidacies.
Durbin says some action must be taken to lessen the influence of money on elections. “I just don’t think that voters across Illinois and America celebrate when they hear we’re going to have much longer, more expensive campaigns that are going inundate the airwaves. That is not in the best interest of democracy,” Durbin said.