Congressman Derek Kilmer

Representing the 6th District of Washington
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Kilmer, Renacci Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Fix America’s Election Watchdog

Jun 26, 2015
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) introduced a bipartisan bill to fix the commission charged with enforcing federal election laws. The Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act would reform the Federal Election Commission so it can more effectively carry out its original mission to oversee campaign finance laws. Representatives Lou Barletta (R-PA) and John Carney (D-DE) are also original cosponsors of the bill.  

Much of the dysfunction stems from a Commission that is too easily deadlocked along ideological lines.  This gridlock puts election candidates who are trying to follow the law at a disadvantage and creates great confusion about how federal laws are being interpreted and enforced.

“It’s time we let folks know their voice matters in our political system,” said Kilmer. “But lately, the commission designed to be the people’s advocate in our elections has seen more gridlock than Congress. We need to institute meaningful, substantial reforms so the Federal Election Commission can get back to what it’s supposed to do by weeding out campaign finance abuses. By making the commission functional again we can make sure it helps us revitalize our democracy and focus on citizens rather than special interests.”  

The Federal Election Commission is tasked with enforcing our campaign finance laws, but due to the commission’s current structure, it is not operating efficiently or effectively, which is unfair to hardworking American taxpayers,” said Renacci.  “I am a strong believer in the rule of law and believe this legislation is an important step forward in breaking the gridlock that currently exists at the FEC, so that appropriate enforcement of our election laws can take place.”

Kilmer and Renacci’s legislation would reduce the number of Commissioners from six to five to eliminate stalemate decisions. To increase the independence of the Commission, one of the members could not be affiliated with either party and the Chair would serve a ten-year term, like the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigations.

Additionally, the bill would:

  • Reduce partisanship by limiting Commissioners to one term
  • End the practice of Commissioners serving indefinitely until a replacement is chosen for them
  • Create a blue ribbon advisory panel to recommend nominees to the president to fill any vacancy on the Commission
  • Delegate some administrative and investigatory tasks to the Chair to ensure smooth administration and timely investigations
  • Maintain the requirement for a majority of the Commission to vote to initiate or take civil action against someone who violates federal election law, issue advisory opinions, engage in rulemaking, and conduct investigations and hearings