Legislation & policy analysis

Issue One applauds introduction of bipartisan bill to fix the Federal Election Commission

This week, Reps. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced bipartisan legislation to overhaul the dysfunctional Federal Election Commission (FEC) and to ensure it can effectively enforce the nation’s election laws.

The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act is designed to restructure the FEC, restore faith in the election system, and allow the agency to meet the needs of elections in the 21st century.

“There has never been a more critical moment in our nation’s history to restore faith in our elections and bedrock institutions,” said Issue One Executive Director Meredith McGehee. “Our country depends on a functioning Federal Election Commission that will actually enforce our nation’s campaign finance laws and meet the challenges of the 21st century. Passing the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act is a necessary first step to address political dysfunction, and we commend Reps. Kilmer and Fitzpatrick for their bipartisan support on this important issue.”

The agency’s inability to act wastes taxpayer dollars, allows violations to go unchecked, and makes America’s elections less safe. The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act would:

  • Change the number of commissioners. By reducing the number of commissioners from six to five and permitting no more than two members to be affiliated with the same party, the FEC would become a more effective enforcer of ethics and election laws. The commission would have the authority to initiate, defend and appeal civil actions, conduct investigations, issue advisory opinions, and change or amend regulations.
  • Create a blue-ribbon panel to recommend commissioners. To help ensure the president nominates a highly qualified appointee, the bill establishes a nonpartisan Blue Ribbon Advisory Panel to publicly recommend potential nominees to the FEC for the president’s consideration.
  • Strengthen the FEC Chair. The bill also directs the president to appoint a chair, subject to confirmation by the Senate. The chair would have administrative powers and the power to order written reports, administer oaths, and handle witnesses and evidence.
  • Eliminate never-ending holdovers. Currently, FEC commissioners can serve long after their term has expired while they wait for a replacement commissioner. Under the bill, commissioners serve a single six-year term and may not remain in office in holdover status for more than one year.
  • Improve enforcement. The bill clarifies that the FEC may be represented by agency attorneys before the Supreme Court and allows those who respond to requests before the FEC to appear at hearings.

Learn more about the bill here.