But Trump has so far forsaken the very government agency Congress created after Watergate to work as the nation’s campaign season Roto-Rooter.
The Federal Election Commission’s six commissioners, including the agency's three Republicans, say neither Trump nor his transition team has contacted them.
Trump, meanwhile, appointed Don McGahn, a former FEC chairman and preeminent enemy of campaign finance regulations, as his top White House lawyer. Representatives for the Trump transition declined to answer questions from the Center for Public Integrity about the FEC.
The developments together are evidence that the FEC — once a reasonably robust and bipartisan judge of political misdeeds — heads into 2017 even more marginalized than ever before by the very politicians it’s supposed to advise and police.
Making matters bleaker:
- The FEC finds itself torn by internal strife between increasingly disgruntled employees and top agency managers
- Its own inspector general in October stopped just short of declaring the FEC an operational disaster
- While outward hostilities are less frequent, the agency’s commissioners continue to grapple with ideological impasses so pitched that at least two commissioners — Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Caroline Hunter — barely speak to one another anymore
- Every FEC commissioner but Ravel continues to serve despite his or her term having expired long ago, and some may soon quit the agency
Such FEC decreptitude also coincides with the body politic, having endured the most expensive and bruising presidential election in recent U.S. history, becoming overwhelmingly cynical and angry about how money affects elections.
Nearly nine in 10 Americans believe wealthy people will figure out new ways to influence politics, regardless of whether campaign finance laws are changed, according to a new Center for Public Integrity/Ipsos poll conducted in early December.
The poll also indicates that more than seven in 10 Americans want the federal government to impose moderate or strict contribution limits on super PACs — technically independent political committees that may raise and spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for or against candidates. They are not supposed to “coordinate” their spending with candidates’ campaigns.