Jeffrey H. Birnbaum's Oct. 3 Business profile of Federal Election Commission Chairman Scott E. Thomas ["Election Commissioner Is a Lonely Voice"] suggested that those who disagree with Mr. Thomas's positions are "timid" or "beholden" to political interests.

The FEC is charged with regulating citizens' participation in campaigns for elected office. Given this delicate charge, the FEC is required to uphold the law, including the inevitable political compromises, that Congress enacted, not the law that some activists wish had been enacted.

The issues it must grapple with frequently require balancing First Amendment rights against asserted governmental interests that would restrict the ability of individuals and citizen groups to express their opinions.

Surely those charged with enforcing this body of law must be constrained by the statute itself while giving due deference to the value of the free-speech rights they may limit; they should not seek solely to adopt the most restrictive possible interpretation of the law.

Mr. Birnbaum at least should consider the possibility that those who take this position are acting in good faith, and that they are as concerned with principled application of a complex statute and with the health and vibrancy of our democratic system as Mr. Thomas no doubt is.