FEC Nominees' Names Sent to Senate for Vote

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Rules Committee forwarded to the full Senate yesterday the names of four acting members of the Federal Election Commission, but in an unusual move the panel did not include a recommendation to approve or reject the nominees.

Deliberations over the nominations of Robert D. Lenhard, Hans A. von Spakovsky, David M. Mason and Steven T. Walther have been hamstrung for months by concerns of some Democrats about von Spakovsky's past work on voting rights issues for the Justice Department and the desire of some Democrats to vote on them individually.

All four have been serving on an acting basis but cannot continue past this Senate term. The FEC needs a minimum of four members present to take any action. At full strength, the commission is supposed to have six members -- three Democrats and three Republicans. If confirmed, the four would join a fifth member.

The dispute is not over. Democratic and Republican leaders will have to decide whether the nominees are to be considered as a group in the full Senate, or whether each will have to face a vote individually.

J. Gerald Hebert, executive director of the Campaign Legal Center and an opponent of von Spakovsky's confirmation, said he hopes that Senate leaders insist on a separate vote on von Spakovsky's nomination. "If they do, von Spakovsky will not be confirmed," he said.

Bradley A. Smith, a former FEC chairman and a von Spakovsky supporter, hailed the committee's decision to send his name, along with those of the others, to the full Senate for a vote. "The fact is, in the 21 months that Commissioner von Spakovsky has already served, he has consistently enforced the law while respecting the First Amendment -- something that cannot be said for all his critics," Smith said.

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