DFAD Letter to Senate Rules Committee

NMMOP joined in this important Declaration for American Democracy alliance letter to the Senate Rules Committee as a signatory.

March 10, 2020

The Honorable Roy Blunt Chairman, Senate Rules Committee 260 Russell Senate Office Building Washington, DC 20510

Dear Chairman Blunt:

We are writing to express our strong objection to the White House’s troubling decision to proceed with only a Republican nominee to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), despite the fact that a Democratic nominee has already been vetted and is also awaiting confirmation. The FEC should have a full complement of six commissioners that are willing to enforce our nation’s campaign finance laws—and the appointment process should be free from partisan gamesmanship.

An independent FEC is the foundation of ensuring our democratic processes are fair and accountable. Traditionally, when there are open Democratic and Republican seats, Senate Republican and Democratic leaders each put forward a candidate to the White House for consideration. Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer have nominated a bipartisan pair of candidates to fill the current vacancies on the FEC, but President Donald Trump has only nominated a Republican candidate.

It is unacceptable to only nominate the Republican candidate to the FEC when there is a fully vetted Democratic candidate pending. There is no excuse to refuse consideration of the Democratic nominee. Doing so is sheer partisan politics and undermines the integrity of a fair and balanced appointment process for this bipartisan agency.

The FEC plays a crucial role in our country’s ability to conduct free, fair, and secure elections. Since the end of August 2019, the FEC has only had three commissioners and therefore does not have a quorum necessary to fully enforce our federal campaign finance laws, while hundreds of cases pile up on their enforcement docket.i The American people deserve an independent FEC that will safeguard our elections from corruption and foreign influence, and candidates deserve clear guidance for their campaigns.

Worse yet, the Republican nominee under consideration — Trey Trainor — has a long history of evading, if not wholly undermining, campaign finance laws. In an election year, Republicans are making a blatant power grab by attempting to hijack the FEC and stack it with a nominee whose past record and comments suggest he might refuse to enforce our election laws or enforce them in undemocratic or partisan ways. This nominee has long been an advocate for dark money and deregulating the campaign finance system. His record includes representing the biggest dark money group in Texas in a legal battle over disclosing its donorsii; arguing against a state measure that would require dark money donors to be disclosediii; and supporting efforts to defund

an ethics oversight commission and to weaken ethics laws.iv The FEC cannot be stacked with commissioners whose beliefs are antithetical to the purpose of the Commission and our campaign finance laws.

Our democracy is increasingly under attack from dark money and foreign influence. America needs a strong and independent FEC to safeguard our elections from corruption. We urge the White House to formally consider the Democratic FEC nominee and to fill the remaining Republican seats with qualified election law experts in order to ensure a fully functioning FEC in this critical election year.

Signed,

African American Ministers In Action Campaign for Accountability
Center for American Progress
Center for Popular Democracy
Clean Elections Texas
Democracy 21
Democracy Matters
End Citizens United Action Fund
Indivisible Kansas City
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
New Mexicans for Money Out of Politics
People for the American Way
Progressive Turnout Project
Public Citizen

i https://www.fec.gov/resources/cms-content/documents/FEC_Response_to_House_Admin.pdf
ii https://www.dallasnews.com/news/politics/2017/09/27/campaign-watchdogs-cite-significant-concerns-if-texas- lawyer-trey-trainor-gets-fec-post/#link_time=1506556063
iii https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-politics/wp/2017/09/13/trump-nominates-conservative-texas-lawyer- to-federal-election-commission/
iv https://www.texasobserver.org/trump-trey-trainor-fec-nominee/