Discussing FEC confirmations, Wash. Post omitted that Bush withdrew nomination of chairman who questioned McCain loan

››› ››› BRIAN LEVY

In an article on five new FEC confirmations, The Washington Post did not note that President Bush withdrew the renomination of chairman David Mason, who has requested that Sen. John McCain assure the FEC he did not act improperly by signing a loan agreement that could have forced him to remain in the race -- even if he had no chance of winning -- in order to be eligible for public matching funds to repay the loan.

In a June 25 article on the Senate's confirmation of five new commissioners for the Federal Election Commission, The Washington Post did not note that President Bush withdrew the renomination of FEC chairman David Mason, who has requested that Sen. John McCain assure the FEC he did not act improperly by signing a loan agreement that could have forced him to remain in the race -- even if he had no chance of winning -- in order to be eligible for public matching funds to repay the loan. As Media Matters for America has noted, Mason has stated that McCain cannot opt out of public financing in the primary without FEC approval, as McCain has attempted to do, meaning that every day that McCain spends beyond the limits of the public financing system -- which he has already exceeded -- he could be breaking federal law. The Post did not mention that Bush withdrew Mason's renomination despite reporting: "The six-member panel has been unable to consider action this election year because only two commissioners were left after three recess appointments expired in December. ... The FEC thus could not resolve a range of disputes, including questions about Republican Sen. John McCain's withdrawal from the public financing system during the presidential primaries."

By contrast, on June 24, the Associated Press reported:

Earlier this month, President Bush decided to withdraw Mason's nomination, prompting a protest from [Senate Majority Leader Harry] Reid [D-NV] and from watchdog groups.

Mason has on few occasions voted with Democrats on regulatory matters. Earlier this year, he angered officials in Republican John McCain's presidential campaign by raising questions about a loan McCain obtained and by informing the campaign that it needed a vote of the commission before withdrawing from the primary's public financing system. Earlier this year, the Democratic National Committee filed a complaint with the FEC over McCain's loan and on Tuesday it sued in federal court to compel the FEC to investigate the matter.

The Post also failed to mention Mason's withdrawn renomination to the FEC in a May 17 article, as Media Matters noted at the time.

The June 25 Post article by reporter Matthew Mosk, in its entirety:

The Senate confirmed five new commissioners for the Federal Election Commission last night, ending a six-month impasse during which the agency was paralyzed by its lack of a quorum.

"We're finally going to restore the FEC," Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) said as the chamber prepared for the voice vote.

The six-member panel has been unable to consider action this election year because only two commissioners were left after three recess appointments expired in December. Democrats blocked consideration of any replacements over objections to one of President Bush's choices, former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky, whom they accused of politicizing cases of voting rights.

The FEC thus could not resolve a range of disputes, including questions about Republican Sen. John McCain's withdrawal from the public financing system during the presidential primaries. And it was blocked from drafting congressionally mandated regulations to force congressional candidates to disclose how much money lobbyists are raising for their campaigns.

The logjam was broken last month when von Spakovsky withdrew his name from consideration.

The new members of the FEC are Cynthia L. Bauerly of Minnesota, Caroline C. Hunter of Florida, Donald F. McGahn of the District and Matthew S. Petersen of Utah, the current chief counsel for the minority on the Senate Rules and Administration Committee. Steven T. Walther, one of the recess appointments, was confirmed to a full term. The five will join commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub.

Posted In
Elections, Election Law, Government, Nominations & Appointments
Network/Outlet
The Washington Post
Stories/Interests
John McCain, 2008 Elections
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