Chairman Miller Calls FEC’s Failure to Issue Enforcement Manual Unacceptable

Jul 26, 2013

WASHINGTON – Committee on House Administration Chairman Candice Miller, R-Mich., issued the following statement on the Federal Election Commission’s failure to approve an enforcement manual: 

“Two years ago, this Committee called on the FEC to create and publish an enforcement manual that explains its enforcement policies and procedures just like other federal agencies with the authority to investigate and fine Americans. This year alone, the Committee has sent three letters urging the Commission to publish its manual. Not only has the FEC failed to act, its Chair has even defended the inaction by citing the need for six commissioners – a shortage that didn’t prevent the Commission from voting on other matters yesterday and at other meetings over the past five months. This inaction is unacceptable and the excuses must come to an end. 

“When a federal agency keeps its enforcement policies and procedures secret or makes them difficult to understand, it increases the opportunity for abuse by its employees – abuse that has very real consequences for the Americans subject to its power. The recent revelations of abuse of certain groups by the IRS because of their political beliefs has violated the trust of every American and has diminished their faith in government.  The refusal by the FEC to approve and publish their enforcement manual can only lead Americans to believe that the FEC wants to hide the criteria used to enforce the law from the transparency that is the entire reason for the existence of the agency.  Complying with campaign finance law is complicated at best and inconsistent or arbitrary enforcement procedures only makes it worse and again diminishes Americans’ faith in government. The FEC’s inaction is a complete contradiction of the agency’s core mission and as the Chairman of the committee responsible for oversight of the FEC they must know that they will be held accountable.”    

In November of 2011, the Committee held a Subcommittee hearing focused on the FEC’s enforcement documents. Compared to other federal agencies like those within the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission, the FEC did not make public its enforcement documents.  In fact, the agency didn’t even have a comprehensive document explaining their enforcement procedures.