McCain Strikes Again
in the World is Ellen Weintraub?
W. Bushs judicial nominees face yet another hurdle in the
U.S. Senate Senator John McCain.
Republican has placed a hold on all nominations pending before
the Senate, including 17 judicial nominees. And the "maverick"
senator is vowing to prevent any action on their confirmations until
the president assures him that Ellen Weintraub will receive a recess
appointment to a seat on the Federal Elections Commission (FEC)
during Congress upcoming August break.
Who in the world
is Ellen Weintraub?
the Democrat choice to fill a lame-duck FEC seat, currently occupied
by Democrat Commissioner Karl Sandstrom. Sandstrom recently voted
with his three GOP colleagues to approve new regulations by which
soft-money provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform
Act (BCRA)* will be enforced. McCain is irate over the recently
passed FEC regulations, as he and other principle BCRA sponsors
Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) and Representatives Christopher
Shays (R-CT) and Marty Meehan (D-MA) claim the new rules
were "intentionally and arrogantly" written to create
loopholes in the law.
This much we
know from The New York Times and other major media,
which are exempt from McCains "reform," and have
shamelessly reported on his latest posturing in a favorable light.
not being widely reported is that Weintraub, a staunch supporter
of BCRA, is the wife of Senator Russ Feingolds legislative
director, Bill Dauster. Her speedy ascension to the FEC post would
no doubt serve McCain and Co. well, as the commission prepares to
draft the next set of BCRA regulations in the fall. McCain will
stop at nothing to ensure that happens, even if it means holding
up the vital work of the Senate.
Also of note
is that Weintraub, a former staffer for the House Ethics Committee,
is currently an election lawyer in the Washington D.C. office of
Perkins Coie LLP. The firms political law group, headed by
Democrat operative Bob Bauer, represents numerous House and Senate
Democratic campaign and political action committees, including that
of Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle (D-SD). According to United
Press International, Perkins Coie is believed to be the "legal
mastermind" behind several frivolous ethics complaints and
unfounded fundraising charges against former House Speaker Newt
Gingrich (R-GA) and other Republican members of Congress and organizations.
In 2000, Perkins
Coie represented the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee
(DCCC) in its Racketeer Influenced Corrupt Organization (RICO) suit
against House Majority Whip Tom DeLay (R-TX) and three tax exempt
organizations. Perkins Coie and the DCCC charged that DeLay was
"extorting" funds from political donors and laundering
the money through organizations close to him. The baseless complaint
was thrown out of court and the DCCC withdrew its charges almost
a year later.
a product of Bauers tutelage, capable of serving on the FEC
in an impartial role? We wont know until she goes through
the traditional process of being vetted and confirmed by the full
Daschles suggestion that Ellen Weintraub be nominated to the
FEC post was sent to the president eight weeks ago. According to
the White House, she is still undergoing the standard background
checks a process that Daschle himself admits is lengthy and
In the meantime,
McCains desire to influence the FEC as it writes the regulations
governing BCRA should not delay Senate action on the 17 nominees
waiting to fill longstanding vacancies of the federal judiciary
and more than 60 other nominees lingering on the Senate calendar.
The Center has
extensively about the obstructionism that has plagued the judicial
confirmation process. An agreement announced this week between the
White House and leaders of both parties in the Senate to expedite
the process could be good news for the many nominees being held
in limbo. McCains petulance is now the only obstacle standing
in their way.
Campaign Finance Reform Act represents one of the most egregious
assaults on the First Amendment ever ventured by the United States
Congress. The Center for Individual Freedom has joined Senator Mitch
McConnell (R-KY) and more than 80 other members of Congress, organizations
and individuals from across the political spectrum in challenging
the constitutionality of BCRA in court.
- To download
the Centers complaint filed by Southeastern Legal Foundation,
- To read the
Centers Constitutional analysis of the McCain-Feingold bill,
which is similar to the final version passed by Congress, click
July 12, 2002]