via Phillip Carter:
FEC Reduced to Offering Advice
Without a Quorum, Rulings on Campaigns Are Nonbinding
By Matthew Mosk
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, January 9, 2008; Page A13
Down to two members and unable to muster a quorum, the Federal Election Commission has decided to offer advice instead of binding decisions on questions from political campaigns.
This week, organizations with pending requests for decisions from the six-member FEC on campaign matters received phone calls from agency staffers letting them know not to expect formal rulings anytime soon.
The groups were told that the FEC's two remaining members will hold a public hearing Jan. 24 to share their informal views on the requests. The board lacks the four votes needed for the commission to take official action on a number of matters, including enforcement cases.
"For those things that require four votes, we'll take them up to the point where that requirement for a vote is triggered, and then put them on hold," said FEC Chairman David M. Mason, one of the two remaining members. "Work, I'm afraid, will continue to back up."
Bob Biersack, an FEC spokesman, said: "The staff will go ahead and draft an answer and the two members will discuss those drafts. Hopefully, in a way, that gives some kind of guidance without saying, 'This is the position of the commission.' "
The advice offered collectively by Mason, a Republican appointee, and Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic appointee, will not be binding. "It won't give them explicit legal protection," Mason said. "But if we both say no, or both say yes, that should provide some guidance."
When operating with a full complement, commissioners routinely undertake enforcement cases and audits of political committees, among other matters. They need four votes to launch such reviews, four votes to find probable cause, four votes to reach a settlement, and four votes to file suit in court.
Contested cases from late last year -- those that resulted in disagreement among FEC board members -- are in limbo, Mason said. And more of them are stacking up every day.
The four vacancies are the result of a standoff between President Bush and Congress over one of Bush's nominees, Hans A. von Spakovsky. His critics contend that during his tenure in the Justice Department's civil rights division, von Spakovsky advocated a controversial Texas redistricting plan and fought to institute a requirement in Georgia that voters show photo identification before being permitted to cast ballots...
So Dear Leader gives us the choice of FEC officials that are guaranteed to throw the $elections to the Rethuglicans or none at all.
The $election has been unofficially shrunken to the size where Mr. Norquist can drown it in a bathtub. Whoever wins, there are no rules, because there is no oversight at the Federal level. Just advice.
The entire $electoral process is now kabuki.