Holding the Government Accountable

FEC IG Says Things Don't Add Up Too

In a very low-key 2005 release, the Federal Election Commission Inspector General released a report entitled: "Audit of the Commission's Public Disclosure Process" (pdf). The report was requested in 2002 by then-Rep. Stephen Horn (R-CA) (and, in full disclosure, a current member of POGO's Advisory Council who became a member after retiring from Congress) who questioned FEC shortcomings in campaign finance reporting. Rep. Horn's inquiry was the result of two POGO reports: "At The Federal Election Commission Things Don't Add Up" (2001; pdf) and "Re-Establishing Institutional Integrity at the FEC: Ten Common Sense Campaign Finance Disclosure Reforms" (1998; pdf).

The FEC report confirms POGO's findings that election data is inaccurate and unreliable. The public should demand a complete overhaul of the campaign finance reporting system: is it unacceptable that the FEC's limited study found $1.2 million in errors as well as one discrepancy totaling nearly $190,000? Instead, the FEC wants to inform the public that discrepancies occur and place the burden on the public to sort through the data to compare PAC contributions against candidate receipts. In a positive move, the IG suggested that the FEC "consider recommending to Congress that the donor committee's identification number be included on the contribution check" and "recipient committee's report."

Is it time for the FEC to come out from the Ice Age and provide a reliable campaign disclosure system?