Statement by Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer

In voting today to approve an advisory opinion request made jointly by the Republican and Democratic National Committees, four FEC Commissioners invented out of thin air a new opportunity for the national parties to raise contributions in excess of the contribution limits enacted by Congress.

The three Republican Commissioners, joined by Democratic Commissioner Ann Ravel, voted to allow the parties to set up new convention committees to operate under separate party contribution limits.

This is an absurd interpretation that has no basis in law. A wealthy donor who had previously been limited to giving $32,400 per year to a national party can now make an additional $32,400 contribution per year to the party’s convention committee.

This allows an individual to contribute and a federal officeholder to solicit $129,600 per donor for a national political party in a two-year election cycle. Today’s vote doubles the opportunity for the wealthiest individuals in our country to buy influence with the national parties and the federal officeholders who help raise their funds.

Years ago, the FEC used bogus interpretations to create the now-discredited political party soft money system by ignoring the contribution limits in the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). The agency created dark money problems by ignoring contribution disclosure requirements in FECA and the agency created illegal coordination problems by ignoring the coordination prohibitions in FECA.

Now in another act of pure hubris, Democratic Commissioner Ravel and the three Republican Commissioners voted today to allow the political parties to raise illegal contributions by again ignoring the party contribution limits in FECA.

We appreciate the fact that Commissioners Weintraub and Walther voted today to interpret FECA as it was written and as Congress meant it to be interpreted.

To their great discredit, Commissioner Ravel and the three Republican Commissioners failed to take the same approach and ignored the nation’s campaign finance laws.