Democrats on the Federal Election Commission Attempt to Censor Fox News

Free and fair elections are essential to our constitutional republic.  That they are not always so is an unfortunate reality, and perhaps can be filed under, “nothing's perfect,” provided any funny business is kept to a very minimal level such that it doesn't affect the outcome.

The Federal Election Commission is a primary vehicle for insuring that our elections are conducted according to the rule of law.  As is often the case with government bureaucracies, this is a highly politicized agency.  When that politicization turns it into a tool for partisan manipulation of the election process, the regulator itself has become the problem.

The recent FEC actions concerning the Republican debates illustrate this problem.

Democratic members of the Federal Election Commission, in a decision to be made public on Thursday, voted last month to punish Fox News over criteria changes for the network’s first Republican presidential primary debate – but were blocked by Republican commissioners.

What was Fox's alleged offense?

The vote concerned changes made to the criteria for the Fox News-hosted GOP primary debate on Aug. 6, 2015 in Cleveland. For that debate, Fox News decided to alter the format – hosting two debates instead of one and expanding the first debate for lower-polling candidates to include any candidate identified as such in national polls. Seven candidates ultimately participated in the first debate, and 10 participated in the prime-time event.

Again, what's the alleged problem according to those on the FEC voting to punish Fox?  Two commissioners believed that inviting the seven lower-ranking candidates to a debate constituted an illegal contribution to their campaigns.

After consideration, two Democratic commissioners – Ann Ravel and Steven Walther – concluded the network had made such an illegal contribution to the seven candidates invited to the first debate and voted to penalize. The vote failed 2-4. The other Democratic commissioner, Ellen Weintraub, did not vote to penalize Fox News and voted to dismiss.

Fortunately, what came very close to censorship of the media by the FEC didn't go anywhere as no penalty was assessed.

[FEC Commissioner] Goodman [who voted against the penalty] argued that such “editorial decisions” regarding debate rules should be free from FEC regulation. He suggested there is “no practical or logical difference” between hosting a debate with 17 candidates and interviewing 17 candidates.

“How could expanding debate news coverage from 10 to 17 candidates be against the law?” he said.

Exactly.  And happily, for once, the regulatory system reigned itself in and returned the right result — Fox did nothing wrong.

But the fact that the decision was this close does nothing to assure us that the FEC will always act to promote the free and fair elections on which our form of government depends.

Source:  Fox News


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