Dems Want to Take Partisan Control of Speech Regulation

Democrat commissioners on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are showing us just how dangerous it would be if Democrat-backed election bills become law. As Kimberley Strassel explained in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, Democrat Commissioner Ellen Weintraub is a case study for selective enforcement of FEC regulations.

The FEC may not be the most well-known regulatory body, but it is extremely important to freedom of speech. Strassel writes:

The FEC in theory holds extraordinary power, in that it regulates speech in elections (via campaign-finance law). The protection against partisan abuse of this power is the commission’s structure. Its congressional creators wisely designed a six-person commission, with three members from each party. At least four votes are required for commission action.

Democrats despise the deadlocks. The more they’ve struggled to sell their agenda, the more they’ve turned to trying to strangle their opponents. Democrats have been campaigning for years to restructure the FEC as a partisan regulator. H.R.1 would do that, getting rid of staggered terms and creating a body with only five commissioners—all nominated by the president. There’d be two from each party, while the fifth would be an “independent.” The bill’s procedures virtually guarantee that “independent” would be a pro-regulation, anti-free-speech stalwart who votes with Democrats.

“The FEC would lose any semblance of impartiality and credibility if enforcement decisions were turned over to a 3-2 partisan majority,” says Lee Goodman, a Republican former commissioner.

To make matters worse, Democrat members of the Commission don't want the public to know how they are voting.

This week, Democrat commissioners voted against a proposal to make the FEC more transparent. Republican Commissioner Sean Cooksey proposed that all votes on agency litigation be publicized, but the Democrat commissioners blocked it.

Americans should be concerned about Democrat efforts to limit their political speech and Democrat members of the FEC's unwillingness to be held accountable for their decisions. Strassel concluded:

This FEC case study is only one of hundreds of examples of how H.R.1 is designed to stack the deck against conservative candidates, voters and free-speech advocates. At the very best, it would supercharge a pro-regulation Democratic FEC majority that crushes speech under government diktats. At worst (or best, by Democratic lights) it would empower partisans like Ms. Weintraub to punish and reward behavior selectively.