Smooth confirmation hearing for FEC nominee John J. Sullivan

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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has been a hotbed of partisan bickering and gridlock in recent years, but you wouldn't know it from today's Senate confirmation hearing on President Obama's first FEC nominee. Only three Senators attended today's Rules Committee hearing — Democrat Chuck Schumer of New York, the chairman, and Republicans Robert Bennett of Utah and Georgia’s Saxby Chambliss — and they all had nice things to say about the nominee, Service Employees International Union (SEIU) Associate General Counsel John J. Sullivan. Republican Bennett went so far as to call him “eminently well-qualified for this position.”

The hearing lasted less than a half hour. Sullivan pledged to use the position to fight the cynicism that comes from corruption and the appearance of corruption by enforcing the laws; he also praised the FEC’s equally divided bipartisan six-person structure as a “great advantage” in that it ensures all actions must be bipartisan. On that front there’s been no shortage of disagreement; Schumer noted that the commission has frequently deadlocked three-to-three, and pledged that the committee would examine that issue at some point in the future. Sullivan expressed a strong hope that the commissioners will improve their capacity to constructively work out any differences going forward.

Sullivan hopes to trade his SEIU position for this full-time FEC gig and its $153,200 annual salary.

The committee is scheduled to vote on the nomination tomorrow. If confirmed by the full Senate, Sullivan’s term would go through April 30, 2013.