U.S. Representatives Brian Fitzpatrick (PA-01) and Derek Kilmer (WA-06) introduced the bipartisan Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act to reform the Federal Election Commission (FEC) and enable it to more effectively carry out its mission to oversee and enforce campaign finance laws.
The current enforcement process at the FEC is such that the Commission is increasingly deadlocked on decisions. In 2006, the FEC deadlocked on fewer than three percent of all major enforcement cases they reviewed. That number jumped to 30 percent by 2016.
“The foundation of our democracy is the American people’s confidence in our electoral system,” said Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick. “Ending the partisan gridlock at the Federal Election Commission will increase transparency and give the American people confidence that campaigns are held accountable and everyone is following the same rules.”
“It’s time to protect the interests of ‘We the People’,” said Rep. Derek Kilmer. “The Federal Elections Commission, which was designed to be the people’s advocate in our elections has seen more gridlock than Congress. Meaningful, substantial reforms at the Commission need to happen so it can get back to weeding out campaign finance abuse and holding those who skirt the rules accountable.”
One of the core tenets of the bill would be the reduction of the number of commissioners from six to five, eliminating stalemate decisions. The bill would mandate that one member could not be affiliated with either party, ultimately increasing the independence of the Commission.
The Restoring Integrity to America’s Election Act would also:
- Establish an advisory Blue-Ribbon Commission to develop recommendations on nominees to fill vacancies on the Commission as they arise.
- Prohibit recent politicians from serving as commissioners to preserve the independence of the commission.
- Strengthen the role of the General Counsel so that enforcement matters move forward on such authority, unless the Commission affirmatively votes to override the General Counsel.
- Revise the qualifications for commissions to focus on independence, public credibility, and professional experience in election law.
- Designate to reviewing courts the power to decide whether agency action is contrary to law based on the merits of the complaints before them.