December 15, 2010- Despite being tasked with monitoring an election cycle in which $4 billion was spent, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) obtained penalties in only 34 cases, 86 percent fewer than in 2009. The toothless agency collected a paltry $860,000 in fines, a far cry from the $6.71 million in fines levied following the 2006 midterms. The troubling absence of enforcement has led Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) to suspect something more than incompetence may be involved.
"Clearly something nefarious has happened at the FEC. Obtaining penalties in only 34 cases is absurd. There is simply no logical explanation for such an important federal agency becoming such a toothless joke," said CREW Executive Director Melanie Sloan. "It's time for President Obama to step up and decide that bad actors belong in B movies, not in the agency charged with protecting our elections and democracy."
In just the past month, the toothless commission has chosen to ignore several high profile and blatant violations of election law. In Nevada, it inexplicably believed the parents of Senator John Ensign (R-NV), who claimed the $96,000 payoff to the family of their son's mistress was a gift, despite ample evidence to the contrary. In the FEC's defense, in the history of the world, no parent has ever lied to protect a child. Meanwhile in Louisiana, the commission willfully ignored clear evidence showing the U.S. Dry Cleaning Corporation illegally reimbursed employees for donations to Senator David Vitter (R-LA), with the understanding that Sen. Vitter show his gratitude for the donations by securing federal funding for the company.