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FEC nominations moving forward

Officials: Senate Rules Committee planning hearing for July 24

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The Senate Rules and Administration Committee will on July 24 conduct a confirmation hearing on President Barack Obama's two new nominees to the Federal Election Commission, three government officials familiar with the proceedings tell the Center for Public Integrity.

The hearing, if conducted as planned, means the nominations could move forward to the full Senate before the body recesses on August 2 for a five-week summer break.

Committee members may vote to approve or reject the nominees —  Lee E. Goodman, an attorney at law firm LeClairRyan, and Ann Ravel, chairwoman of the California Fair Political Practices Commission — or forward the nominations to the full Senate without recommendation.

Obama nominated Ravel and Goodman on June 21, as the Center previously reported.

Senate Rules Committee official Sharon Larimer said the committee, of which Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is chairman, has not officially announced a hearing date. Any formal hearing announcement would come at least one week in advance of its scheduled date, Larimer added.

(Update, 9:51 p.m., July 15: The Senate Rules Committee today issued a formal notice confirming that it would conduct a hearing on Goodman and Ravel for July 24.)

If the Senate Rules Committee approves Goodman and Ravel, the full Senate must confirm them — something it failed to do for labor lawyer John J. Sullivan, Obama's only other FEC nominee. Sullivan withdrew himself from consideration in 2010 after waiting 15 months for the Senate to vote on his nomination, which the Senate Rules Committee unanimously supported.

The FEC's five remaining commissioners continue to serve in "holdover status" despite each of their six-year terms having expired. Goodman is slated to replace Vice Chairman Don McGahn, a Republican appointee whose term expired in 2009.

A sixth, Democratic appointee Cynthia Bauerly, resigned in February to become deputy director of workforce development at Minnesota's Department of Employment and Economic Development. Ravel, if appointed, would fill her former slot.

Campaign finance reformers and government watchdogs have routinely panned the FEC as dysfunctional under Obama's watch, with commissioners frequently deadlocking on high-profile cases before them.

The current commissioners' working relationships are, by their own acknowledgement, also strained, with some rarely ever speaking to one another.