FEC appointments and the Rumsfeld papers, Huntsman’s moves, and transparency in political law links today

HUNTSMAN’S RISKS. Politico covers Ambassador Jon Huntsman’s alleged involvement with a new PAC and a potential White House run here. “Federal law is relatively strict in barring employees from political activity while on duty, and special rules for ambassadors indicate that they are considered ‘on post’ — or on duty — at all times when they are in their host countries. George Terwilliger, a former Bush-Cheney campaign adviser and a top Justice Department official under President George H.W. Bush, noted that there have traditionally been higher public expectations — if not always tougher legal limits — for officials involved in national security.”

DISCLOSURE OF LOBBYIST MEETINGS. There are more stories about White House officials’ use of space outside of the White House to hold meetings with lobbyists, including this Politico report.

GROUPS DON’T WANT CR TO KILL PUBLIC FINANCING. Democracy21 has the news release here.

CALIFORNIA CONTRIBUTION CASE. The Post reports. “Last week, Larry Minor, whose Agri-Empire business is one of the nation’s largest potato growers, was indicted in a California court on charges of funneling $66,000 in campaign contributions through his family and employees to two candidates for the state legislature, evading the state’s contribution limit of $3,900.”

THE RUMSFELD PAPERS AND THE FEC. Like you, I’ve been spending a lot of my spare time perusing the Rumsfeld papers, documents Don Rumsfeld has put online related to his new book, Known and Unknown, A Memoir. According to his site, the document library is a huge and growing collection of files from his years in Washington serving in Congress, the White House, and the Department of Defense. What am I interested in reading? Campaign finance-related documents, of course. And there are a few. Some of the documents may shed light on the early appointments to the Federal Election Commission.

From a December 19, 1974 memo: “I gave the President the report on the election commission, that he had asked for that there is no deadline for nominations that it’ s effective January 1 and until the New Members are sworn in the Clerk of the House the Secretary of the Senate and the Comptroller General run it. Scott and Mansfield made their recommendations. Rhodes and Albert have not. And the pacing item is Hartmann talking to Hobart Taylor.” (Rumsfeld describes how these notes were prepared here.)

Buckley (decided in January 1976), in rejecting the method of appointment of commissioners, helpfully describes how members of the Commission were to be appointed: “Although two members of the Commission are initially selected by the President, his nominations are subject to confirmation not merely by the Senate, but by the House of Representatives as well. The remaining four voting members of the Commission are appointed by the President pro tempore of the Senate and by the Speaker of the House.” The Court ultimately held “that most of the powers conferred by the Act upon the Federal Election Commission can be exercised only by ‘Officers of the United States,’ appointed in conformity with Art. II, § 2, cl. 2, of the Constitution, and therefore cannot be exercised by the Commission as presently constituted.”

One document summarizes action items from a January 27, 1975 meeting with President Ford. “We talked about the election Commission. He wants me to call John Bell and say it looks like it will be a little messy and we won’t go with him. We talked about the Democrats — Curtis and Duffy — and he said ‘Didn’t Scott veto Duffy?’ If Curtis doesn’t sail up on the Hill the next fallback is Ray Bliss. DICK [here Rumsfeld is tasking his assistant Dick Cheney], Tell Walker.” A lot to unpack here and it might take a dedicated student of politics of the era to give this passage its due. Ray Bliss was a former chair of the RNC and he never served at the Commission. “Scott” may be a reference to Republican Senator Hugh Scott. Wikipedia. “John Bell” might be a reference to John Bell Williams. “Curtis” could be Thomas Curtis, who eventually served at the agency.

I didn’t find any documents referencing Buckley v. Valeo.

A document of more recent vintage memorializes a February 1999 meeting Rumsfeld held with George W. Bush about Bush’s potential run for the White House. “He explained how he planned to run for President, if he ran, and talked about fund raising.” Bush’s exploratory committee filed in March 1999.


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