May 31, 2002
Propositions for Certain Aspects of Federal Election Commission(FEC) Rulemaking in re:
Public Law 107-155, 107th Congress:
"An Act to amend the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 to provide bipartisan campaign reform"
The following testimony is acknowledged in the new rules governing "soft money" that have just been passed down by the FEC, and my contribution has been acknowledged by Bradley Smith, one of the six FEC Commissioners, as having had some modest impact.--Peter Bearse
Introduction / Basic standpoint
Following the Commission’s nomenclature in Agenda Document, 02-28, this memorandum on certain aspects of FEC rulemaking to implement the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 will refer to the latter as "BCRA" and employ other shorthand referents used in the Document.
We need to look for opportunities in the Act to re-involve the American electorate in electoral politics as volunteers. Fortunately, notwithstanding the Act’s total focus on money and lack of any mention of political volunteerism, it offers some opportunities to redress the imbalance in politics between a steadily increasing dominance of money in politics and the small and decreasing role of volunteers.
Note that the Act federalizes the political process and undermines the role of political parties, who traditionally advocate that people "vote the ticket" in elections that frequently involve a mix of federal and non-federal elections. It does so by requiring that "allocation rules" are established to identify what portion of campaign finance and party disbursements (including "generic") have been devoted to advocating the election of federal election candidates and to voter registration (VR) or get-out-the-vote activities (GOTV) during a federal election season. Only the Levin Amendment (in part) and reliance upon political volunteers (not political committee "employees") would enable political parties, committees and other organizations to escape the implied regulatory/ enforcement burden of such rules.
Note also that the Act allows both parties to raise substantial amounts of money for non-profit groups as long as they are non-political and/or not involved in political activity favoring federal candidacies. Such groups are often able to mobilize substantial numbers of volunteers.
Finally, note that the Act potentially implies (1) a shift in emphasis of fund-raising from national to state and local political committees and (2), from political committees to non-profit membership organizations. Potentially, it also can help to provide more attention and resources to the state and local levels of politics where people can more readily be involved.
Viewing the above "note"(s) in the context of the "standpoint" stated at the outset of this draft, the following suggested rules may be both apropos and beneficial. The writer would welcome an opportunity to elaborate on these propositions during the public hearing scheduled for June 3, 2002.
"electioneering." Any rule applied to expenditures of such time would raise serious questions of compliance and be very difficult to enforce.
The Act is ambiguous on some points of concern. Thus, the following are just a few among many questions that need to be addressed so that precise rules can be written and enforced in ways that grassroots political participation is encouraged or not discouraged.