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Controversial FEC Nominee Withdraws

Controversial Federal Election Commission nominee Hans von Spakovsky has withdrawn his name from consideration for the post, potentially clearing the way for a deal that could get the crippled agency back up and running.

Von Spakovsky, a former Justice Department lawyer and Republican nominee to the commission, told the White House Friday he was withdrawing his name. His candidacy has been at the center of a partisan standoff in the Senate, as Democrats strongly opposed him for his past work on voting rights issues. With four vacancies on the commission -- two from each party -- Democrats wanted to vote on each nominee separately so they could kill von Spakovsky's chances. But Republicans insisted on voting on all four nominees as a group, and neither side would budge.

Von Spakovsky's biggest Hill supporter, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said in a statement: "I am deeply disappointed by the decision of Hans von Spakovsky to withdraw his nomination to the Federal Election Commission. Senate Democrats set a troubling precedent with their partisan obstruction of a highly qualified nominee to the FEC -- something that has never been done during my time in the Senate, regardless of who was in the majority."

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) called von Spakovsky's withdrawal "a victory for our electoral process. With Mr. von Spakovsky now removed, I anticipate that we will be able to swiftly put a functioning FEC in place. That too is what the American people deserve."

The standoff has meant that the FEC only has two out of six commissioners working, not enough for a quorum necessary to take substantive action. That has threatened Sen. John McCain's (R-Ariz.) chances of getting public funding for his general election campaign, since the FEC must sign off before the U.S. Treasury can release the funds. The agency has also been unable to deal with a host of campaign complaints filed by various parties, or approve new rules governing various fundraising organizations. With von Spakovsky no longer in the middle, Senate Democrats and Republicans may soon be able to move the other nominees and get the FEC working again.

By Ben Pershing  |  May 16, 2008; 6:05 PM ET
Categories:  2008 Campaign , Fundraising Circuit  
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