There are four people working at the Federal Election Commission during the shutdown. There are usually 339. This is the agency that’s meant to shine a light on campaign contributions and expenditures, to let the people know who is paying for the attack ads flooding their television screens as Election Day approaches.
Campaign contributions are going into the dark.
Campaigns can still file electronically, but if the system breaks, there will be no one around to fix the problem. “And it is possible that technological problems may arise that would prevent filers from filing on time,” FEC’s website states.
But more than that, they won’t have much capacity to make the reports public. “I don’t know how to personally post the reports — I’m a little out of my league there,” commission Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, one of the four people working, told the Center for Public Integrity. “The public will have to go without disclosures until we open back up.” Also, campaigns won’t be penalized for missing deadlines due to the shutdown.
If the shutdown lasts for a few weeks, the FEC could still be closed for a key Oct. 15 congressional filing deadline. That’s the deadline, the Sunlight Foundation explains,
for all political committees that file quarterly (a group that includes most House candidates) to have their paperwork into the FEC. Five days later, the reports of monthly filers (mostly political action committees, including super PACs) are due.
When the government reopens, campaigns that have missed filings will have 24 hours to comply. For a commission with a history of backlogs, that could further impede public postings.
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The House Intelligence Committee voted to release the November 14 testimony of Glenn Simpson, the man at Fusion GPS who oversaw the creation of the now infamous Trump-Russia dossier. Simpson's testimony includes a number of startling claims, including that Russia infiltrated conservative political groups prior to the election, and that Trump had "long time associations" with the Italian Mafia," and that he "gradually during the nineties became associated with Russian mafia figures." Simpson also testified that Trump called off a post-election meeting with Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank and a longtime member of the NRA, currently under investigation by the FBI for money laundering. Simpson said that the discoveries were so alarming that he felt compelled to go to the authorities. The full text of the transcript can be read here.
House Speaker Paul Ryan says he has the votes to pass a short-term spending bill tonight, but "Senate Democrats said they're confident they have the votes to block the stop-gap spending bill that the House is taking up, according to two Democratic senators and a senior party aide. And top Senate Republicans are openly worried about the situation as they struggle to keep their own members in the fold."
The bipartisan legislation, known as the Congressional Accountability Act of 1995 Reform Act, means taxpayers will "no longer foot the bill" for sexual harassment settlements involving members of Congress." The legislation "would require members to pay such settlements themselves." It also reforms the "cumbersome and degrading" complaint process by giving victims "more rights and resources," and by simplifying and clarifying the complaint process. The legislation is the first major transformation of the sexual harassment complaint system since it was created in 1995.
"The FBI is investigating whether a top Russian banker with ties to the Kremlin illegally funneled money to the National Rifle Association to help Donald Trump win the presidency." Investigators have focused on Alexander Torshin, the deputy governor of Russia’s central bank "who is known for his close relationships with both Russian President Vladimir Putin and the NRA." The solicitation or use of foreign funds is illegal in U.S. elections under the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) by either lobbying groups or political campaigns. The NRA reported spending a record $55 million on the 2016 elections.