6) FEC REGULATION
President Obama made strengthening the FEC one of his 2008 campaign talking points, but his only appointment to the commission during his first term failed to clear the Senate. Through the entire 2011-2012 election cycle, the Federal Election Commission was in deadlock. As interest groups poured billions into the election system, five of the six commissioners were beyond the expiration date on their term in office, and the three Republican commissioners refused to enforce campaign finance laws on ideological grounds. At the end of October 2013, two new appointments took their seats, and they have their work cut out for them. The FEC is the agency most able to regulate and police how moneyed interests spend on elections.
In January, the FEC came under fire from campaign finance reformers after it ended an investigation into Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS. The original complaint, filed by watchdog groups Public Citizen and Protect Our Elections, claimed that Crossroads had registered as a “social welfare” nonprofit, but had been operating as a political committee or super PAC, and therefore should be forced to disclose its donor list. The Washington Post reported that FEC commissioners decided to dismiss the complaint when they deadlocked in a 3-3 vote to pursue the allegations.