Politics1 updates the status of two controversies before the toothless Federal Election Commission:

FEC = “FOR EVERY-OTHER CANDIDATE”? Apparently, that’s the definition Al Sharpton (D-NY) applies. Let’s see: Shartpon refers to himself in speeches as “the candidate” and “a candidate” … he filed federal paperwork in January to establish his 2004 exploratory committee … and, by his campaign manager’s own admission, has raised over the $5,000 threshold amount for filing FEC reports. Yet, despite all this, Sharpton is the only Democratic hopeful who refused to file federal paperwork for the quarter ending March 31. He says he doesn’t believe he is required to file paperwork because he hasn’t made any final decision about running. The FEC says a person is judged a “candidate” by their words and actions. Further, the FEC added that they can’t look into the matter unless someone first files a formal complaint. This is not the first time Sharpton has tried to skirt election finance laws. As we reported in early January, Sharpton had been raising money for his exploratory committee since September 2001 but — as of January — had yet to file the FEC paperwork for his exploratory committee (even though it was entitled “Sharpton Explore 2004” on his own website).

SPECTER SETTLES FEC CASE. Without admitting liability, US Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) settled the long-running FEC case involving allegations that he illegally accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of private plane rides during his failed 1996 Presidential bid. Specter supposedly failed to report or underreported the value of the trips. After months of negotiations, Specter paid the FEC $25,000 last week to settle the case.

So, much like the UN, the FEC works only when a party feels it is in their interest to follow its dictates. Sharpton, correctly I believe, thinks his constituency could care less whether he abides by the law. So why should he comply? It’s not like the FEC has arrest powers.

FILED UNDER: 2004 Election, , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.