Reid Proposes Compromise to Break FEC Logjam

Posted April 29, 2008 at 4:03pm

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) shipped to the White House on Tuesday a compromise plan on Federal Election Commission nominees, a deal that is likely dead on arrival because it does not meet GOP demands on Hans von Spakovsky.

“You are aware that Mr. von Spakovsky does not have majority support to win confirmation,” Reid wrote Tuesday in a letter to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. “It is my understanding that you have two additional Republican FEC candidates cleared for nomination.

“One would fill Mr. von Spakovsky’s seat should he be defeated or withdrawn, and the other would fill the vacant Republican seat,” Reid continued. “You already have the non-controversial re-nomination of sitting commissioner David Mason pending.”

Reid’s proposed deal also includes confirming a new Democratic nominee to replace former Commissioner Robert Lenhard, a former labor lawyer who took his name out of the running earlier this month and went into private law practice.

Cyndi Bauerly, a lawyer for Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chairman Charles Schumer (N.Y.), has been identified frequently in recent months as a possible Democratic nominee.

Likewise, Reid mentions “two additional Republican FEC candidates cleared for nomination” as part of his proposal, but does not provide names. He does write in his letter that “one of the Republican candidates cleared for nomination has had an extensive political practice.”

Don McGahn, a National Republican Congressional Committee lawyer, also has been mentioned frequently as a possible replacement on the FEC for ex-Commissioner Michael Toner, whose seat has been vacant for more than an year.

Along with the three unnamed potential nominees, Reid also proposes that Democratic pick Ellen Weintraub and GOP nominee Mason remain on the commission. Steven Walther, a close friend of Reid, also is up for a Democratic seat on the commission, but is not named in the letter.

The White House has not responded to Reid’s offer, but the Bush administration and Senate Republicans for months have held fast on all-or-nothing demands on von Spakovsky’s nomination.