Skip Navigation
Archive

Joint Letter to President Clinton Regarding Bradley A. Smith’s Appointment to the FEC

According to recent press reports, Bradley A. Smith, associate professor at Capital University Law School, “is a leading GOP favorite” for appointment to the Federal Election Commission (FEC). We believe that such an appointment would be totally at odds w

Published: June 3, 2003



Letter to Pres­id­ent Clin­ton

June 3, 1999

Dear Pres­id­ent Clin­ton:

Accord­ing to recent press reports, Brad­ley A. Smith, asso­ci­ate professor at Capital Univer­sity Law School, “is a lead­ing GOP favor­ite” for appoint­ment to the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion (FEC). We believe that such an appoint­ment would be totally at odds with any notion of fair and effect­ive enforce­ment of the federal campaign finance laws. We strongly urge you not to make this appoint­ment if Mr. Smiths name is submit­ted to you by congres­sional Repub­lic­ans.

Any member of a federal regu­lat­ory agency should, at a minimum, believe in the mission of that agency, the laws to be admin­istered by the agency, and the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of those laws.

Because of his clear and open contempt for this nations campaign finance laws, Mr. Smith fails this basic test. His writ­ings demon­strate his compre­hens­ive hostil­ity to the federal campaign finance laws laws which he believes are wrong, burden­some, and uncon­sti­tu­tional.

Mr. Smith is on record for the repeal of the Federal Elec­tion Campaign Act (FECA). He has writ­ten:

“[T]he most sens­ible reform is a simple one: repeal of the Federal Elec­tion Campaign Act.”

Mr. Smith is on record for the posi­tion that the federal campaign finance laws are, in their entirety, uncon­sti­tu­tional. He has writ­ten that the FECA the law admin­istered by the FEC is:

“- profoundly undemo­cratic and profoundly at odds with the First Amend­ment.”

Any indi­vidual who believes that an agencys organic stat­ute is uncon­sti­tu­tional and should be repealed in toto, is not fit to serve as a Commis­sioner of the agency charged with admin­is­ter­ing and enfor­cing that stat­ute.

No one, for example, would conceive of appoint­ing to head the Drug Enforce­ment Agency an indi­vidual who believes all the federal anti-drug laws are uncon­sti­tu­tional and should be repealed. Such an appoint­ment would be viewed as an act of utter disdain and disrespect for the laws to be admin­istered by the agency involved.

Mr. Smith believes the federal campaign finance laws are not only uncon­sti­tu­tional, but misguided in their very purpose. In support­ing repeal of the campaign finance laws, he has writ­ten that the coun­try “would be best served by dereg­u­lat­ing the elect­oral process.”

Mr. Smiths ideas are not simply a matter of whether one takes a liberal or conser­vat­ive view of the exist­ing campaign finance laws. His views are noth­ing short of radical. While such ideas may be appro­pri­ate for an academic parti­cip­at­ing in public debate, they are wholly unac­cept­able for a Commis­sioner charged with the stat­utory mandate to admin­is­ter and enforce the nations anti-corrup­tion laws enacted by Congress and upheld by the Supreme Court.

Indeed, Mr. Smith fails even to accept the funda­mental anti-corrup­tion rationale for the campaign finance laws the rationale that was at the heart of the Supreme Courts decision in Buckley v. Valeo uphold­ing the consti­tu­tion­al­ity of the exist­ing campaign finance laws.

Mr. Smith dismisses the rationale by writ­ing, “Moneys alleged corrupt­ing effects are far from proven. – [T]hat portion of Buckley that relies on the anti-corrup­tion rationale is itself the weak­est portion of the Buckley opin­ion both in its doctrinal found­a­tions and in its empir­ical rami­fic­a­tions.”

The FECA requires that members of the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion shall be chosen “on the basis of their exper­i­ence, integ­rity, impar­ti­al­ity, and good judg­ment.” 2 U.S.C. ? 437c(a)(3).

Mr. Smith is in no way “impar­tial” about the campaign finance laws. He does not believe in them.

Mr. Smiths adam­ant oppos­i­tion to the exist­ence of the federal campaign finance laws, and his clearly stated views that they are uncon­sti­tu­tional, make him unfit to serve as a Commis­sioner of the FEC.

We strongly urge you not to nomin­ate Mr. Smith to serve on the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion if his name is submit­ted to you as a poten­tial nominee for the agency.

Sincerely,

Donald J. Simon
Acting Pres­id­ent
Common Cause


Fred Wertheimer
Pres­id­ent
Demo­cracy 21


E. Joshua Rosen­kranz
Exec­ut­ive Director
Bren­nan Center for Justice At NYU School of Law