What Then?

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Pundits and press folks have been understandably distracted by many other stories surrounding the presidential race, but despite the fact that the debate over public financing in the general election has died down somewhat, the fact remains that the Federal Election Commission is still short the necessary number of commissioners it needs to do its job, and that's just begging for trouble down the line.

The Washington Post explains the potential collision course between the ongoing presidential contest and the need to potentially certify and administer public funds to the party nominees. Even if both the Democratic and Republican candidates agree to take public financing, they may not be able to be certified to receive funds:

Four commission members are required for such certification -- and because of a congressional standoff over confirming new members, the FEC is now operating with just two members out of the six it is supposed to have. This means that, in addition to being frozen on public financing, the FEC is unable to write regulations, launch enforcement actions or issue advisory opinions.

This situation is an embarrassment waiting to mushroom into a scandal. It is outrageous to have the country going through a contested election with the agency that is supposed to oversee enforcement of the election laws incapable of functioning.

The sticking point continues to be the nomination of Hans von Spakovsky as one of the commissioners. Democratic leadership strongly opposes his nomination based on his voting rights record, and Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) -- noted opponent of campaign finance reform who probably isn't losing much sleep over the FEC's dormancy -- won't let the other commissioners be voted on separately. The stalemate drags on, the nominating conventions draw closer, and nobody is minding the store.