Anti-Clin­ton PAC de­mands FEC in­ves­ti­gate pro-Clin­ton group

The Washington Times Weekly - - Politics - BY S.A. MILLER

The Stop Hil­lary PAC, an or­ga­ni­za­tion ded­i­cated to pre­vent­ing Hil­lary Rod­ham Clin­ton from be­com­ing the next pres­i­dent, pres­sured the Federal Elec­tion Com­mis­sion on Wed­nes­day to act on a com­plaint that an­other group with the op­po­site goal is il­le­gally op­er­at­ing as a Clin­ton cam­paign com­mit­tee.

The anti-Clin­ton group sent a let­ter to the FEC de­mand­ing ac­tion on its Jan. 22 com­plaint that the Ready for Hil­lary PAC vi­o­lated elec­tion law by re­ceiv­ing tacit sup­port from Mrs. Clin­ton when it rented the email list of sup­port­ers from her failed 2008 pres­i­den­tial cam­paign.

The let­ter de­tailed how the FEC had not en­forced its own 15-day dead­line for Ready for Hil­lary PAC to re­spond to the com­plaint.

“Fully ninety-nine (99) days have elapsed since that dead­line and Stop Hil­lary PAC has re­ceived no fur­ther com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the FEC on this mat­ter to in­di­cate whether the mat­ter is open, closed, or swept un­der the rug,” Dan Backer, the group’s trea­surer, wrote in the let­ter.

The FEC re­ceived the let­ter Wed­nes­day. The Wash­ing­ton Times ob­tained a copy of the let­ter.

The FEC did not im­me­di­ately re­spond to the let­ter, said Stop Hil­lary PAC spokesman Gar­rett Mar­quis.

Ready for Hil­lary re­ferred a re­quest for com­ment to the FEC. FEC spokes­woman Ju­dith In­gram told The Times that the agency does not com­ment on en­force­ment is­sues.

The FEC ac­knowl­edged re­ceipt of the orig­i­nal com­plaint Jan. 29, no­ti­fied both Ready for Hil­lary and Mrs. Clin­ton by Feb. 3, start­ing the 15-day clock run­ning for a re­sponse, but the FEC took no fur­ther ac­tion, ac­cord­ing to the anti-Clin­ton PAC.

The group warned in the let­ter that slow-walk­ing the com­plaint against the PAC and Mrs. Clin­ton would ex­pose the FEC, a non­par­ti­san agency that over­sees elec­tions, to ac­cu­sa­tions of par­ti­san­ship.

Cit­ing the forced res­ig­na­tion last month of an FEC staff at­tor­ney who so­licited con­tri­bu­tions for Pres­i­dent Obama’s 2012 re-elec­tion cam­paign and took part in a web broad­cast at FEC of­fices to crit­i­cize the Repub­li­can Party and its 2012 pres­i­den­tial nom­i­nee Mitt Rom­ney, Stop Hil­lary PAC warned that the FEC rep­u­ta­tion was again on the line.

The con­duct of the now-for­mer staff at­tor­ney, which vi­o­lates the Hatch Act lim­its on po­lit­i­cal ac­tiv­ity by govern­ment em­ployee, “raises se­ri­ous con­cerns as to the non­par­ti­san en­force­ment of rou­tine FEC mat­ters,” wrote Mr. Backer.

“As the FEC has a sub­stan­tial in­ter­est in avoid­ing even the ap­pear­ance of par­tial­ity in its en­force­ment ac­tiv­i­ties, and in light of the se­ri­ous­ness of vi­o­la­tions we raise, I urge the FEC to en­sure the prompt and pub­lic res­o­lu­tion of this com­plaint with­out any fur­ther un­due de­lay,” he said.

Mrs. Clin­ton — a for­mer first lady, U.S. se­na­tor from New York and sec­re­tary of state — is the undis­puted early fron­trun­ner for the 2016 Demo­cratic pres­i­den­tial nom­i­na­tion, though she has not for­mally an­nounced her in­tent to run.

The Ready for Hil­lary PAC de­scribes it­self as a “na­tion­wide grass­roots move­ment en­cour­ag­ing the for­mer Sec­re­tary of State to run for pres­i­dent in 2016.”

The group launched its draft-Clin­ton ef­fort as soon as Mrs. Clin­ton stepped down as Obama’s sec­re­tary of state in Jan­uary 2013.

A year later, the group came un­der scru­tiny for rent­ing the email list from Mrs. Clin­ton’s 2008 cam­paign. It used the list of sup­port­ers to send email of­fer­ing bumper stick­ers that read “I’m Ready for Hil­lary.”

Ready for Hil­lary has in­sisted the it did noth­ing wrong by reach­ing out to Mrs. Clin­ton’s past sup­port­ers.

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