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Reid to Bush: Drop Von Spakovsky or OK Individual FEC Votes

Senate Democrats have made their next move in the ongoing stalemate involving Federal Election Commission nominees, asking President Bush on Monday to either drop former Justice Department lawyer Hans von Spakovsky or begin persuading Senate Republicans to go along with individual votes to fill the five agency vacancies.

“Despite your commitment that you would accept and agree to individual votes on each of the pending nominations, including Mr. von Spakovsky’s, Republican Senate leaders indicated last week that they intend to continue to block such votes,” Reid wrote in a letter on Monday to White House Chief of Staff Josh Bolten. “This continued obstructionism will prevent the FEC from its important work during this election season, including issuing advisory opinions, rulemakings, enforcement actions and certification of public financing.”

Reid’s letter is a response to a week-old White House plan to put the elections regulator back in business after a more than six-month standoff that shuttered the FEC on Jan. 1.

Bush on May 6 nominated Democrat Cynthia Bauerly and Republicans Don McGahn and Caroline Hunter to fill three spots on the six-member panel.

Along with these three, two holdovers —Democrat Steven Walther and Republican von Spakovsky — plus sitting Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub would put the panel at capacity.

Reid also wrote in the letter that should the White House pull von Spakovsky’s nomination, he would back the renomination of maverick GOP commissioner David Mason, who was unexpectedly dropped by Bush and Senate Republicans last week.

Mason’s ouster last week was loudly criticized by campaign finance groups as political retribution for his recent treatment of Sen. John McCain’s (R-Ariz.) presidential campaign.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) office has not said how it plans to proceed on the new White House nominations.

— Matthew Murray