Democratic Federal Election Commissioners Tuesday demanded more meetings and faster action to clear a backlog of cases they created and which they said the GOP chairman has slashed by 61 percent in just eight months since taking over from the Democratic chair.
In the latest example of partisanship at the national elections office, Democratic Commissioner Steven T. Walther said during an open meeting that the backlog of cases is so bad that more closed-door executive commission meetings are required and he offered guidelines for faster action on the cases.
And another Democrat commissioner hit the current GOP leadership of the FEC for canceling meetings this year.
However, in a long memo filled with statistics to make his case, Walther revealed that the FEC, which has been under Republican chairmanship since January, has cut the case backload and already held nearly as many meetings so far this year than it did in all of 2015 when Democrat Ann Ravel was chair. The evenly divided FEC trades off the chairmanship between a Republican and Democrat every year.
Walther, who has targeted case backloads for years, noted that "there has been a 61 percent decrease (44 / 72) in the number of matters pending before the Commission during the past nine months." But, he added, "Although this represents a substantial reduction in pending matters, there is still much work to be done to improve our efficiency in processing enforcement matters."
He also gave details on the number of executive sessions in 2015, under Democrat Chair Ravel, and 2016, under Republican Chair Matthew Petersen, in arguing for more.
"During calendar year 2015, there were 15 executive sessions during which one or more substantive actions were taken, and there were a total of 87 actions taken at those meetings regarding Office of general Council's enforcement recommendations, for an average of six (rounded) actions per executive session. In addition, and separate from actions taken at Commission meetings, there were 34 substantive actions taken through tally votes, for an average of three (rounded) actions taken per month during calendar year 2015," said the memo.
And under the Republican chairman, efficiency appears to have improved, said the memo:
"During the first seven months of calendar year 2016, there have been 11 executive sessions during which one or more substantive actions were taken, and there were a total of 67 substantive actions taken at those meetings regarding OGC's enforcement recommendations, for an average of six (rounded) actions per executive session. In addition, and separate from actions taken at Commission meetings, there were 31 substantive actions taken through tally votes, for an average of four actions taken per month so far during calendar year 2016."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org