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FEC Hearts Hillary

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of

Has the supposedly neutral Federal Elections Commission (FEC) just come out in support of Hillary Clinton?

It certainly does look like that might be the case.


Like the IRS, which harassed tea party groups applying for nonprofit status, the FEC appears to be the latest powerful federal bureaucracy to let slip the mask and reveal a Democratic Party face.

Created in the wake of the Watergate scandal solely to administer federal finance laws and make sure that both parties toe the line with regard to campaign finance, the FEC is hosting a public forum on women in politics that amounts to a Democratic Party jamboree. The forum is scheduled for May 12.

“The purpose of the forum is to begin an open discussion with scholars, social scientists, political practitioners and the public to consider why, despite record-breaking numbers of women in the 114th Congress, women remain significantly under-represented in politics at all levels of government,” Obama FEC Chairman Ann Ravel, an Obama appointee, says on the invitation for the May 12 event.

If scholars, social scientists, and political practitioners want to do this on their own dime, they can do so with our blessings. We’re certainly not denying it is a topic of interest. But this “public forum,” as described on its own invitation, is nothing other than a progressive gabfest/planning session that is being sponsored at taxpayer expense by the FEC, whose neutrality must now be questioned.

Speaking of the public forum, lawyer Cleta Mitchell, who represents tea party groups targeted by the IRS, told the Daily Caller that this forum might “call into question Commissioner Ravel’s independence should there be allegations of legal violations by a female candidate — such as Hillary Clinton.”


The forum is to be divided into two segments. The first asks: “Why are women under-represented in elected political office? What barriers do women face in political fundraising? How has the federal campaign finance system helped or hurt women seeking political office?” The second will consider: “How can we encourage women to seek elected political office? Are women-focused fundraising PACs the solution? How have other countries successfully fostered women’s participation in the political process? What lessons can the United State learn from such programs?”

But it is not until you meet the speakers that you really realize what a biased, pro-Democratic Party (and its leftward wing at that) event we taxpayers are sponsoring. There is no excuse for the FEC putting on this event, which is way outside its legally established purview, but you’d think they’d at least have found some GOP camouflage. They did not bother.

One of the esteemed speakers is New Republic scribe Rebecca Traister, who has been quoted describing herself as a “super brow burning feminist lefty pinko liberal lady.” She is author of Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women, about the 2008 presidential campaign.

Though Ms. Traister was “a devoted Hillary supporter,” she urged in a subsequent New York Times Magazine article that her fellow Hillaryites refrain from saying I-Told-You-So every time anything goes wrong in the Obama administration because, “There simply was never going to be a liberal messiah whose powers could transcend the limits set by a democracy this packed with regressive obstructionists.”


Another speaker is Pace University law professor Darren Rosenblum, who, according to his Pace bio, is interested in gender equality. But the discerning prof is not enthusiastic about electing just any women to office. Of Carly Fiorina, the former Hewlett-Packard CEO and GOP hopeful, he tweeted: “The Republican field must have agreed to put Fiorina in the cabinet if she'd be an attack dog against Hillary.”

New Yorker writer Jill Lepore, who is also a Harvard history professor, is also on the FEC roster. She is author most recently of The Secret History of Wonder Woman, which, according to an Amazon blurb, is a “riveting work of historical detection revealing that the origin of one of the world’s most iconic superheroes hides within it a fascinating family story—and a crucial history of twentieth-century feminism.” Ms. Lepore certainly looks to be a diversion from the sorts of boring lawyers with financially intricate questions who usually appear before the FEC.

Other FEC speakers include Marni Allen, director of Political Parity, part of Hunt Alternatives, which was founded by Swanee Hunt, the Hunt oil scion, liberal activist and former Bill Clinton ambassador; Victoria A. Budson, founding Executive Director of the Women and Public Policy Program at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard and a Governor Deval Patrick appointee to the Massachusetts Commission on the Status of Women; and, continuing the take-a-Kennedy School of Government employee to lunch theme, Pippa Norris, the McGuire Lecturer in Comparative Politics there.


Adrienne Kimmell, who will also speak at the FEC forum, had been a Planned Parenthood official at several of that esteemed organization’s affiliates before she became director of the Barbara Lee Family Foundation. Ms. Kimmell must have a literary bent because she last year penned a piece for the Barbara Lee website with the fetching headline, “Women Don’t Like The Party That Doesn’t Like Them.” Can you guess the party in question?

Offering a more international perspective, Betilde Munoz-Pogossian, Organization of American States/ international observation missions and the political rights of women, is also scheduled to speak. I don’t know if this is a subtle hint that the FEC is more concerned that U.S. women require international observers to preserve our rights than it is with making sure Mrs. Clinton’s expected $2.5 billion campaign is scrupulously deployed. But it could look that way.

Of the ten panelists, just one is recognizable as a Republican. That’s not even closed to balanced.

The forum is not the first time Ms. Ravel has done something to raise hackles among conservatives. She also pushed a rule that would have led to the FEC’s regulating speech on the internet that could have affected humble bloggers, YouTube and even the Drudge Report. This rule didn’t fly—at least not yet.

If I were a Republican lawyer involved in national political campaigns, I am not sure I’d be confident I’d get a fair hearing if I had an issue before Ms. Ravel’s FEC. That’s a problem.


Apparently, like Lois Lerner, the disgraced IRS official, who over saw the tea party targeting, Ms. Ravel may have a tendency to see the federal bureaucracy as an instrument to further her own progressive agenda. Americans deserve better and should demand an end to this kind of partisanship from supposedly neutral parties.


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