Backlog of enforcement cases looms over FEC as Trey Trainor joins commission

With Texas attorney Trey Trainor officially being sworn in today as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, one of the most pressing issues facing the agency is its backlog of complaints and enforcement cases.

According to FEC Commissioner Ellen Weintraub, there are 350 cases on the FEC’s enforcement docket. That includes at least 90 complaints that were filed with the FEC since it lost its quorum on September 1, 2019, according to an Issue One review of FEC documents and media reports.

Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee has said: “We hope that Trey Trainor will faithfully uphold the anti-corruption laws on the books and work with his colleagues to swiftly resolve the backlog of complaints and advisory opinion requests before the FEC, despite the concerns raised about his qualifications during the confirmation process.”

Here are six examples of complaints that have been filed in recent months that the FEC is now positioned to evaluate and resolve:

1) In October, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) filed a complaint asking the agency to investigate President Donald Trump’s campaign committee’s debts for unpaid police bills from numerous city governments. 

2) In January, the Republican Party of Kentucky filed a complaint against Democratic Senate candidate Amy McGrath’s campaign manager that alleged he solicited illegal soft money contributions for a super PAC.

3) In February, Democratic Senate candidate MJ Hegar filed a complaint against Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) that alleged his campaign accepted illegal contributions from a corporation.

4) In March, two conservative groups filed complaints alleging that billionaire former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg illegally contributed more than the legal limit to the Democratic National Committee when he transferred $18 million to the party from his failed presidential campaign, which he self-funded. 

5) In April, Dave Hughes, a Republican candidate for Congress in Minnesota, filed a complaint against Michelle Fischbach, one of his opponents in the GOP primary, alleging that organizations led by Fischbach’s husband and mother illegally coordinated with her campaign by making independent expenditures in her favor. 

6) In April, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint against the Big Tent Project Fund, a dark money group that opposed Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, alleging that it failed to register as a political committee and publicly disclose its contributors.