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Friday, December 17, 2010

FEC penalties plummet as campaign spending hits record high -- Commissioner Don McGahn explains why

FEC penalties plummet as campaign spending hits record high:
"The Federal Election Commission levied less than $1 million in fines this year to election scofflaws, a far cry from the $6.7 million in civil penalties in 2006.

Experts said the low output resulted from internal politics that deadlocked the six-member regulatory body and from a landmark Supreme Court ruling that gutted campaign finance laws and opened the spigot for massive corporate and union spending in the 2010 election.

A current commissioner, Republican appointee Donald McGahn, attributes the decline to the FEC paying more attention to compliance and prevention.

'In the past, the commission used to be like the police officer at the bar, waiting for a drunk driver to get in the car and drive away, then arrest them for drunk driving. I'd rather be the cop at the door taking the keys. You don't have to let people gets themselves in big trouble before fixing the problem,' McGahn told the Center for Public Integrity.

The FEC slapped penalties on 108 cases in 2006, 252 in 2007, 104 in 2008, 248 in 2009, and 34 in 2010."

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