Federal Election Commission Chairman Lee Goodman and two of his fellow Republican colleagues skewered Vice Chairwoman Ann Ravel — a Democrat — on Thursday because she didn’t vote to defend the agency last month against litigation from campaign finance reform-minded organizations.
“Not only does this effort derail longstanding Commission practice, but more troublingly, it contravenes well-established legal precedents and evinces a flippant disregard for judicial review,” wrote Goodman, along with FEC commissioners Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen.
"Commissioner Ravel has gone to extraordinary and unprecedented lengths to try to censor presentation of the agency’s rationale for its prosecutorial decision in the Crossroads GPS matter," they continued.
The blistering four-page statement came less than four months after Goodman and Ravel vowed to work together to improve the nation’s campaign finance watchdog and to overcome the bitter ideological divide that has for years plagued the agency.
Whether abstaining from the vote draws “furor or not, I’m here to do what’s best for the public and to fulfill the purposes of the FEC,” Ravel told the Center for Public Integrity. “It’s about disclosure.”
The criticism from her peers also follows a commentary by Ravel — published last week in the New York Times — in which she argued the FEC was “failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws” and called out her three Republican colleagues for regularly voting against investigative actions.
The latest controversy over the FEC litigation stems from a vote in December, when the commission deadlocked on whether to approve effectively allowing the agency to investigate Crossroads Grassroots Policy Strategies, a conservative 501(c)(4) nonprofit co-founded by GOP strategist Karl Rove.
As a “social welfare” nonprofit, Crossroads GPS is not required to publicly disclose its donors. But some have questioned whether it should have registered as a political committee in 2010, after spending millions of dollars on advertisements calling for the election or defeat of candidates.
The change in status would have meant revealing its donors.