Vacancies on FEC Filled As 5 Win Senate Approval

By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Senate confirmed five new commissioners for the Federal Election Commission last night, ending a six-month impasse during which the agency was paralyzed by its lack of a quorum.

"We're finally going to restore the FEC," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said as the chamber prepared for the voice vote.

The six-member panel has been unable to consider action this election year because only two commissioners were left after three recess appointments expired in December. Democrats blocked consideration of any replacements over objections to one of President Bush's choices, former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, whom they accused of politicizing cases of voting rights.

The FEC thus could not resolve a range of disputes, including questions about Republican Sen. John McCain's withdrawal from the public financing system during the presidential primaries. And it was blocked from drafting congressionally mandated regulations to force congressional candidates to disclose how much money lobbyists are raising for their campaigns.

The logjam was broken last month when von Spakovsky withdrew his name from consideration.

The new members of the FEC are Cynthia L. Bauerly of Minnesota, Caroline C. Hunter of Florida, Donald F. McGahn of the District and Matthew S. Petersen of Utah, the current chief counsel for the minority on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Steven T. Walther, one of the recess appointments, was confirmed to a full term. The five will join commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub.

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