Seeking to prevent another IRS-type political scandal, outgoing Federal Elections Commission commissioner Donald McGahn is spending his final days in office trying to reign in the FEC's burgeoning bureaucracy. But, according to Kimberly Strassel at the Wall Street Journal, the political left is fighting McGahn's oversight and is "determined to keep power in the hands of unaccountable staff."
The FEC consists of commissioners from both of America's two big political parties, a sort of check-and-balance to make sure neither party can manipulate the agency to suit their own agenda. Much to the chagrin of the left, this creates substantial gridlock. As a result, frustrated FEC staffers have increasingly sought to bypass the commissioners and "initiate their own inquiries—often on little more than accusations they find on blogs or Facebook," Strassel writes.
More troubling to some FEC commissioners has been the staff's unsanctioned and growing ties to the Obama Justice Department. In September 2011, Tony Herman was named FEC general counsel. Mr. Herman in early 2012 brought in Dan Petalas, a Justice prosecutor, as head of the agency's enforcement section. FECA is clear that a bipartisan majority of commissioners must vote to report unlawful conduct to law enforcement. Yet FEC staff have increasingly been sending agency content to Justice without informing the commission. [...]
...Mr. McGahn is attempting to right the ship by getting the commission to adopt a new enforcement manual that would require uniform procedures. Yet FEC Chairman Ellen Weintraub has been uncharacteristically quiet on the issue, and liberal groups such as the Center for American Progress (via its Think Progress blog) have launched howling accusations that Mr. McGahn is trying to "block enforcement" and "weaken the agency." Some have suggested he's trying to ram through the change while the commission has a temporary 3-2 Republican majority.
In fact, Mr. McGahn hasn't forced this issue, because he's intent on getting all his colleagues to stand up for institutional responsibility. He's made clear he's not trying to end the relationship with the DOJ, or to stop investigations. As he told me this week, the only question is who will make the decisions: "The presidentially appointed, Senate-confirmed commissioners who answer to the public, or an unaccountable staff?"
h/t Hot Air