FEC Nominee Withdraws Name After Long Impasse

Robert Lenhard chose private- sector work.
Robert Lenhard chose private- sector work.
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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Democratic nominee to the Federal Election Commission yesterday withdrew his name for consideration, choosing private-sector work rather than waiting out a confirmation impasse between Senate Democrats and President Bush that has hobbled the agency.

Robert Lenhard, whose two-year recess appointment to the commission expired in December, accepted a position with the law firm Covington & Burling. Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said it would take "at least several months" to offer up a replacement nominee, meaning the electoral watchdog commission will remain at gridlock most of the campaign season.

Only two of the commission's six seats are filled, leaving it without a quorum to act on any official matters during this election year.

Reid again asked Bush to withdraw the nomination of former Justice Department lawyer Hans A. von Spakovsky, who Reid and other Democrats allege acted improperly in implementing a voting rights law.

But White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said yesterday that Bush "continues to strongly support his nomination," urging Reid to consider von Spakovsky as part of an entire slate of FEC nominees.

Reid has only offered to have up-or-down votes on individual nominees, allowing for the possible confirmation of some nominees and the rejection of von Spakovsky.

The commission is divided between three Democrats and three Republicans. GOP senators have objected to individual votes on the FEC nominees by saying that tradition dictates that they be voted on in a bloc or paired off in bipartisan fashion, to ensure each party gets its picks.

-- Paul Kane

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