John Edwards, who is relying on federal money to help fund his presidential campaign, may not get any more. The list of lobbyists raising cash for the candidates, and how much they have brought in, remains hidden.
The Federal Election Commission doesn't have enough members to oversee what is expected to be the most expensive election in US history. Down to just two of its six commissioners, the FEC can't assemble the quorum of four votes required to approve federal campaign funds, enact regulations, undertake fraud investigations, or provide legal advice to candidates.
The reason: Senate Democrats have refused to confirm former Justice Department official Hans von Spakovsky to a seat on the FEC, and, in response, Senate Republicans won't let through President Bush's three other nominees.
"There are decisions that need to be made; now there is no one to make them," said Gary Kalman, a lobbyist with the Boston-based Public Interest Research Group, which favors stronger campaign finance laws.
So far, Edwards is the only top-tier presidential candidate to agree to limit campaign spending to $50 million in exchange for partial federal funding. The FEC can't approve any more money for Edwards beyond the $8.8 million it certified in December. The government has yet to disburse Edwards's money, though he can borrow against the promise of getting federal funds.
"We fully expect the FEC to meet their obligations under the public-financing system," Edwards spokesman Eric Schultz said.