Without a quorum of four commissioners, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) cannot take many official actions, which require the affirmative votes of at least four commissioners. These include taking actions in litigation, finding that a violation of the law occurred in response to a complaint, and defending the FEC's position in court. The lack of a quorum has not stopped so-called campaign finance reform groups from using the complaint and litigation process to attempt to change campaign finance law through the courts. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) filed a motion for default judgment against the FEC, when the FEC is not legally permitted to defend itself in court at the moment. Republican Commissioner Caroline Hunter responded:
CREW’s recent motion is outrageous. First, CREW held off on filing suit against the Commission until after the Commission lost its quorum and could no longer defend itself in court. Second, CREW admits that the law prevents the Commission from acting without a quorum, but nonetheless asks the court to rule that the Commission’s lack of action — compelled by law — is, in fact, contrary to law. Finally, CREW wants the court to order the Commission to act within 30 days, even though the Commission would be unable to comply with such an order until after its quorum has been restored. . . .
What CREW chose to leave out of its motion is more informative than what it included. For example, CREW’s motion does not materially address the Commission conduct that is the focus of CREW’s lawsuit. This is not surprising, given that CREW did not bother at any point during the course of this litigation to obtain a Commission chronology. CREW’s motion also fails to note the obvious fact that if, as CREW asserts, CREW filed two amended complaints after filing a first complaint with the Commission, then CREW itself would have drawn out the administrative timeline: Each time new facts are alleged against a respondent, the Commission must notify respondents and await their responses. Nor does CREW grapple with the likely effects of the federal government shutdown that prevented the Commission from operating for more than a month in late 2018-early 2019.
Particularly during this time of crisis, I would hope that everyone would conduct themselves with honor and integrity, rather than playing games in an attempt to gain unfair advantage in federal court.
Commissioner Hunter also pointed out that in its motion, CREW inappropriately relied on complaints by Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub and on faulty statistics regarding the FEC failing to enforce the law and deadlocked votes that were released by former Democratic FEC Commissioner Ann Ravel as she resigned and have been parroted by Commissioner Weintraub and the "reform" community ever since.
Thank you, Commissioner Hunter, for defending the role of the FEC and the rule of law and opposing CREW's effort to enact campaign finance law changes through the court, instead of through Congress or the FEC, the agency with regulatory authority.