April 06, 2017

Kilmer, Renacci Reintroduce Bipartisan Bill to Fix America’s Election Watchdog

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (D-WA) and Jim Renacci (R-OH) reintroduced 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 (FEC) so it can more effectively carry out its original mission to oversee campaign finance laws.

Representatives Mark Amodei (R-NV), Kathleen Rice (D-NY), Larry Bucshon (R-IN), Scott Peters (D-CA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Stephanie Murphy (D-FL), Lou Barletta (R-PA), Jared Polis (D-CO), Ken Buck (R-CO), and John Sarbanes (D-MD) are also original cosponsors of the bill.   

In recent years the Commission has routinely deadlocked when it comes to investigating significant cases involving the nation’s campaign finance laws. In 2006, the FEC commissioners deadlocked on just fewer than 3 percent of all major enforcement cases they reviewed. By 2016 that jumped to 30 percent.

“We need to bring people-power back to this Congress,” said Kilmer. “But the Commission designed to be the people’s advocate in our elections has seen more gridlock than Congress. Meaningful, substantial reforms at the Federal Election Commission need to happen so it can get back to weeding out campaign finance abuse and holding those who skirt the rules accountable. Making the Commission work will help us revitalize our democracy and put the focus back on citizens rather than special interests.”

“I am pleased to work with my friend Derek Kilmer in introducing the Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act. 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.  “Every day Americans expect for election law to be properly followed and enforced, regardless of party ideology. It is important that these reforms are made to the FEC in order to hold politicians accountable to the American people.”

The 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