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 Supreme Court on Monday declined to hear an appeal to the "federal disclosure rules for political advertising," leaving in place the ruling by a lower court upholding a law requiring the disclosure of donors to political ads. The appeal came from "a Denver-based libertarian think tank that wanted to run an ad without being forced to divulge its major donors," which argued that the requirement was a violation of first amendment rights under the Court's Citizens United decision.
"The Trump administration is proposing a budget it says will increase defense spending by $54 billion and cut non-defense spending by the same amount. The White House is sending a topline budget proposal reflecting those figures to federal agencies on Monday afternoon, according to an Office of Management and Budget official." An unnamed OMB official said most federal agencies would face cutbacks.
Donald Trump announced in a tweet on Saturday that he would not attend the White House Correspondents' Association dinner in April. The move did not come as a surprise, another moment in his ongoing battle with the media, which he has dubbed the "enemy" of the American people and repeatedly refers to as "fake news." Multiple outlets have already cancelled their events surrounding the dinner and several are considering skipping the event outright.
Phillip Bilden, Donald Trump's nominee for Navy secretary, has decided to withdraw his nomination after he was unable to sufficiently untangle his financial commitments. Bilden follows Vincent Viola, who withdrew his nomination for Army secretary.