Yesterday, the Federal Election Commission ruled that a Guyana-born American citizen, Abdel Hassan, will be allowed to be on the ballot for presidential elections in November 2012. He can file papers and raise money, but may not be able to receive federal matching funds. It was a unanimous vote in favor. They believed they did not have to consider Constitutional requirements, but only FEC rules. It’s time to change those rules, and change some mindsets. Who will be the first from the U.S. Senate and House to publicly address this outrage?
Hassan’s request appeared to put the FEC in the rare role of deciding a large constitutional issue that has only a few intersections with campaign finance law. The two commonly held constitutional requirements to run for president are that the candidate be 35 years of age or older and be a “natural born citizen.”
But FEC commissioners said repeatedly that their decision to define Hassan as a candidate had nothing to do with his birth country. They said that current federal election law allows for someone to be a candidate, regardless of whether they can legally hold the office they seek and that the FEC is not charged with deciding presidential criteria including one’s natural-born citizenship.
“This does not mean that he can go and say ‘look the FEC has said that I am a candidate, give me money, I’m official,’” said Republican Commissioner Donald McGahn. “That is not what we do here; we don’t certify you as a candidate. That’s what the states do.”
During Thursday’s meeting, commissioners said they had trepidation about voting for Hassan’s candidacy because of how it might be perceived.
“By saying that it is okay — it does give the impression that we don’t see a problem,” said Democratic Commissioner Steven Walther. “I think that we really need to be cognizant of how this could be misconstrued.”
The FEC’s decision to allow Hassan to go through the initial steps to run for president took place outside of its normal publicly attended open meetings and instead was approved by a tally vote as commissioners tried to reach a consensus.
One of the final sections added to approved opinion states: “Notwithstanding this conclusion, the Commission expresses no opinion on Mr. Hassan’s potential liability arising out of his proposed activities under any other Federal or State law, including any laws concerning fraudulent misrepresentation. Any such issues are outside the Commission’s jurisdiction.”
“For us this is really all about what we are empowered to decide and what we are not empowered to decide,” said Democratic Commissioner Ellen Weintraub. “Nobody is saying that it is fine and nobody is saying it’s okay for this guy to be going out and raising funds.’”
Shortly after Hassan made the request, the FEC signaled that it would decide the technicalities of filing requirements while leaving the broader issue of who can run for president to the judicial branch. In an email to Hassan on July 18, the FEC stated that he understood “that although the Commission can respond to the questions asked in [his] advisory opinion, the Commission cannot make any determination as to whether [Hassan] can, as a naturalized citizen, serve as President.”
There is a possibility that the Federal Elections Commission will let Don’t bother to tell me that it will never happen. I know that, at least not at this time, but this is how these stealth jihads work: keep the assault on the Constitution hammering until the battering ram breaks through. The fact that two draft advisory opinions have been issued on the possibility should get several fired. Law should be clarified immediately, giving whoever is behind this, no opportunity to even talk about.
This is what bureaucrats do, folks. Ironic Surrealism – UPDATED – first reported this story, and and issued an action alert, giving us the opportunity to comment on the draft opinions. We can see, our opinions meant nothing. The comments on her post are worth a read. Do we have bureaucracies, paid by taxpayers, which should have the right to work outside of the Constitution and current law? I’m asking again, who will be the first from Congress to address this?