Federal Election Commission, with 3-3 Votes, Loosens Restrictions on Campaign Funding

Wednesday, August 27, 2014
FEC Chairman Lee Goodman

Federal election regulators have decided, without officially deciding anything, that at least one partisan campaign group can now accept Bitcoin as contributions.

 

The Federal Election Commission (FEC), in reaching yet another 3-3 deadlock due to the Democratic-Republican split among commissioners, has effectively told the Conservative Action Fund that it can receive Bitcoin donations.

 

The decision is part of a larger trend in which campaign operatives are told essentially which election laws will be enforced and which laws won’t have the backing of more than three members on the FEC.

 

The most recent deadlock is considered a blow to efforts to improve transparency in elections, due to the untraceable nature of Bitcoins, Nicholas Confessore of The New York Times reported.

 

Although the FEC made no ruling on the Conservative Action Fund’s desire to accept Bitcoins, Republican Commissioner Lee Goodman told the newspaper that the organization “has a clear statutory right to give and receive in-kind contributions

regardless of what we say here today.” Because of the tie vote, the FEC will not move against the Conservative Action Fund, which gives it a green light to accept Bitcoins.

 

The commission has deadlocked more than 200 times over the past six years, resulting in de facto rules on issues such as candidates using fake websites about opponents to raise money and other issues.

 

Other deadlocks have allowed Super PACs, which are supposed to be independent of campaigns, to use video produced by campaigns in their own ads, making them appear more like that of the candidate.

 

“The Republicans on the commission realized they can render the commission toothless,” Craig Holman, a lobbyist at Public Citizen, told The Times.

-Noel Brinkerhoff, Steve Straehley

 

To Learn More:

Election Panel Enacts Policies by Not Acting (by Nicholas Confessore, New York Times)

Federal Election Commission Lawyers Call for Investigation of Illegal Activity by Karl Rove Super PAC…No Action Expected (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Terms for All Members of Federal Election Commission have Expired (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

Court Orders Federal Election Commission to Stop Stonewalling Information Requests (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)

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