The Federal Election Commission is proposing rules that would spare it from ever releasing transcripts of some secret sessions.
The regulations would give the six commissioners the option of keeping only a set of detailed minutes in executive sessions where they discuss sensitive violations of election laws.
The agency has advanced the new rules less than eight months after deciding to make transcripts of some executive sessions available for the first time.
In response to a Wall Street Journal reporter's request under the Freedom of Information and "Sunshine" acts in May, the commission decided to disclose transcripts of some closed-door meetings on cases that had been resolved.
It has been slow to make any transcripts public because, although it tape-records its public and private meetings, it does not routinely transcribe them.
In fact, in its 10-year history, the FEC has released the transcripts of executive sessions in only one case: the two 1979 meetings in which it discussed settlement of a case involving then-representative Geraldine A. Ferraro (D-N.Y.), who had received illegal family loans.
The election law requires the FEC to conduct its investigations in secret. When a conciliation agreement is reached with a politician or political committee, the terms of the settlement are not placed on the public record for 30 days. Even then, portions of the case file are kept secret, unless the person investigated notifies the FEC he wants the records released.