FEC Closing and Dorian

Grind for September 3rd
“Light travels faster than sound. This is why some people appear bright until you hear them speak.”
– Alan Dundes

Bad Timing

The Headline

FEC nears shutdown as election year approaches

The Grind

The Federal Election Commission will suspend business starting this Friday following the resignation of Vice Chairman Matthew Petersen.

The FEC must have a minimum of four commissioners to stay in business. Mr. Petersen’s departure puts the group at three.

“To not have the FEC able to take action right now is deeply concerning,” says Daniel Weiner, a former senior council with the agency.

The Details

Without the FEC, it is unclear who will enforce campaign finance laws or work to prevent election interference.

“After 2016, it’s become very clear that it is almost certain that the Russian government and potentially other US rivals will seek to interfere in the US election,” continues Weiner. “Including through online propaganda, cybersecurity incursions, and other tactics.”

Before Friday’s shutdown, the FEC had been working to improve transparency requirements for online political ads of the type Russian agents used to influence voters in 2016.

The FEC will be unable to resume this vital project until Petersen’s seat is filled. It is unclear how long that will take, as the Senate has not yet acted on President Trump’s nomination of Trey Trainor.

The Takeaway

There’s a “real possibility” that the FEC could remain closed through the election, but “public disclosure reports will continue to be due and will need to be filed by campaigns and PACs and committees,” explains former FEC chairman Michael Toner. “And those reports will be reviewed by the FEC staff just as they always are.”

As Toner points out, there is a five-year statute of limitations on campaign finance violations – meaning that any candidate who break the rules while the FEC is closed could still be fined when the agency resumes normal operations.

Ready For Anything

The Headline

Miami demanded the removal of all E-scooters to prevent “Scooternado”

The Grind

Officials in Miami asked transportation companies like Lime and Lyft to remove all E-scooters by noon on Friday to prevent the scooters from being swept away by Hurricane Dorian.

“Yes, ALL #scooters will be removed from @CityofMiami streets by Friday,” tweeted City Commissioner Ken Russell. “Winds expected to increase on Saturday evening. #HurricaneDorian #Scooternado.”

As reported Friday morning, Lime has already removed 1,500 sharable scooters from major cities throughout the state.

The Details

The storm, described by CNN as “a monster,” is expected to make landfall as a Category 4/5 hurricane.

“It’s going to impact the entirely of Florida, and residents need to be prepared,” said acting FEMA Administration Pete Gaynor.

Cruise ships in the area have extended their trips by up to five days to avoid the storm.

Did you know… There is a persistent storm in Venezuela that produces lightning 140 to 160 nights a year, 10 hours per day and up to 280 times per hour and has been going since at least the 16th century.