Howard Dean and the Democrats are leaping at the chance to help John McCain’s campaign finance petard hoist him. Dean has written a letter pressing the FEC, which doesn’t need much goading, to investigate McCain’s attempt to wriggle out of the very campaign finance constraints he championed.
Problem is, there’s no one there to listen. The FEC has four vacancies and won’t meet a quorum:
The national Democratic party wants campaign finance regulators to investigate whether Sen. John McCain would violate money-in-politics laws by withdrawing from the primary election’s public finance system.
McCain, who had been entitled to $5.8 million in federal funds for the primary, has decided to bypass the system so he can avoid spending limits between now and the GOP’s national convention in September.
Federal Election Commission Chairman David Mason notified McCain last week that he can only withdraw from public financing if he answers questions about a campaign loan and obtains approval from four members of the six-member commission. Such approval is doubtful in the short term because the commission has four vacancies and cannot convene a quorum.
“John McCain poses as a reformer but seems to think reforms apply to everyone but him,” Democratic National Committee Chairman Howard Dean said Sunday.
Who’s to blame? Obstructionist Democrats who have played dirty politics FEC appointments. John Fund reported last June on their campaign:
Appointments to the Federal Election Commission rarely draw attention. But at a confirmation hearing today, there’s likely to be some fireworks over Hans von Spakovsky.
Mr. von Spakovsky has already amassed an 18-month long, largely uncontroversial record at the FEC as a recess appointment. But that’s not likely to stop Senate Democrats from grilling him about his time at the Justice Department during President Bush’s first term. The aim will be to portray him as a partisan who mishandled voting rights cases. Exhibit A will be his support for state voter ID laws.
For months, since the firing of eight U.S. Attorneys sparked a mini scandal, Democrats have insisted that the president has improperly politicized the Justice Department. Specifically, the accusation is that, under Attorney General Alberto Gonzales, DOJ has pursued a political agenda by enforcing laws to curb voter fraud.
Last week, Judiciary Committee Democrats held a hearing aimed in part at discrediting a 2005 Justice lawsuit seeking to force Missouri to cull ineligible voters from its rolls. But while the Missouri case was thrown out by a district judge, similar Justice lawsuits in Indiana and New Jersey led to voter rolls being cleaned up.
There is no limit to the hyperbole directed at Mr. von Spakovsky. He has come under such vitriolic fire from Gerald Hebert, now with the liberal Campaign Legal Center, that even Bob Bauer, the counsel to the Democratic Senatorial and Congressional Campaign Committees, has called his criticism of the nominee’s FEC record “an argument boiling over with personal contempt and so short on reasoned argument.”
Other critics claim that Mr. von Spakovsky ignored concerns that a Georgia law requiring photo ID at the polls would disenfranchise poor and minority voters who have a hard time obtaining documentation. They note that a federal judge twice blocked the law from going into effect.
But yelling “voter suppression” in a crowded congressional theater should be done with caution. In the Georgia case, the federal judge didn’t find evidence that the law was racially discriminatory. He struck it down on other grounds. Also, the Georgia Supreme Court on Monday unanimously threw out a separate challenge to the state’s photo ID law.
Indeed, courts have tended to uphold voter ID laws. Last year, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned a Ninth Circuit ruling that had blocked an Arizona ID law. In doing so, the Court noted that anyone without an ID is permitted to cast a provisional ballot that could be verified later. The court also noted that fraud “drives honest citizens out of the democratic process.”
Voter ID laws are hardly the second coming of Jim Crow. In 2005, 18 out of 21 members of a federal commission headed by former President Jimmy Carter and former Secretary of State James Baker came out in support of voter ID laws. Andrew Young, Mr. Carter’s U.N. ambassador, has said that in an era when people have to show ID to travel or cash a check “requiring ID can help poor people.” A Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll last year found that voters favor a photo ID requirement by 80%-7%. The idea had overwhelming support among all races.
Just Google Hans von Spakovsky and you’ll see the nutroots/far Left smear machine in full tilt.
Who really cares about voter fraud and election integrity? Not the demagogues Democrats now berating a bunch of empty chairs that they helped create.