FEC Fines Kerry-Edwards Campaign $1.3 Million
The Federal Election Commission has fined the Kerry-Edwards campaign over $1.3 million dollars for exceeding federal spending limits by about that much in the 2004 campaign. The Kerry-Edwards team plans to appeal and challenges the FEC’s calculations, which are based on some arcane accounting of the value of various donated services.
I have no real opinion on the facts of the case and doubt that the campaign did anything particularly egregious or different from what the Bush-Cheney team did. This does demonstrate, however, yet again, the worthlessness of the FEC as an enforcement mechanism and the silliness of campaign finance laws more generally.
For the sake of argument, let’s assume the FEC is right here. Let’s further posit a scenario where Kerry had received a few thousand more votes in Ohio and been elected president by a slim margin in the Electoral College. Would the election results therefore be overturned? Of course not. In that case, a $1.3 million fine would be a perfectly acceptable cost for gaining the slight advantage needed to win the presidency.
What, then, is the point?
The election in question was decided two and a half years ago. We’re well into the next presidential campaign cycle. If the FEC can not investigate and punish in real time, we might as well scrap it.