The New York Times
By the Editorial Board–
Republican operatives are charging forward with their efforts to sabotage the Federal Election Commission in its lawful obligation to police campaign abuses. The six-member commission is evenly divided between the two parties, but the Republican vice chairman, Donald McGahn, has spent his tenure as a partisan obstructionist, adroitly engineering 3-to-3 standoff votes to block penalties and other recommendations by staff investigators who uncover abuses by big-money campaigners.
Now Mr. McGahn aims to take advantage of a temporary Democratic vacancy and 3-to-2 Republican edge to push through rules that would make total lackeys of commission staff members by blocking them from the usual sharing of information with the Justice Department and other agencies. In his partisan cunning, Mr. McGahn would even bar them from looking into possible violations publicly reported in news media and on the Internet.
It is critically important when the commission meets next week that this attempt to gut investigative procedures be kept off the agenda until a full, six-member panel is in place. Two nominees — to fill the vacancy and to replace Mr. McGahn, whose term is up — await approval in the Senate. Washington’s major watchdog groups have said that the McGahn proposal would gravely undermine campaign law and that the issue is of such importance that it should be taken up only by a full panel.
Predictably, Mr. McGahn is muddying things by suggesting darkly that F.E.C. staff members may have conspired with the Internal Revenue Service in its investigation into right-wing political groups seeking tax exemption. There is no evidence that they did, but that has not deterred Darrell Issa, the chairman of the House oversight committee, from lending loud support to Mr. McGahn’s crusade.
Mr. Issa, of course, is patently obsessed with wielding the I.R.S. non-scandal as a Republican campaign cudgel. All of this would be the usual pathetic hijinks except that a law of the land is at stake — the one that’s supposed to guard against campaign corruption.