The chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission says she's largely given up hope of reining in abuses in raising and spending money in the 2016 presidential campaign and calls the agency she oversees "worse than dysfunctional."
In an interview with The New York Times, Ann M. Ravel says she was determined to "bridge the partisan gap" and see that the agency confronted its problems when she became its chair last December. She said she had now essentially abandoned efforts to work out agreements on what she saw as much-needed enforcement measures.
Instead, Ravel said she plans on concentrating on getting information out publicly, rather than continuing what she sees as a futile attempt to take action against major violations, the Times reported in a story posted to its website Saturday night. She said she was resigned to the fact that "there is not going to be any real enforcement" in the coming election, the newspaper reported.
"The likelihood of the laws being enforced is slim," said Ravel, a Democrat. "I never want to give up, but I'm not under any illusions. People think the FEC is dysfunctional. It's worse than dysfunctional."
The six-member commission is divided evenly between Democratic and Republican appointees. Tie votes along party lines on key issues are common and reflect disagreements over the agency's mission, its interpretation of rules and their enforcement.
In the wake of the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case -- it allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds in support of political candidates -- the lines drawn by campaign finance laws have become blurred and bent.
Commissioners disagree over Ravel's views, the Times reported.
"The few rules that are left, people feel free to ignore," said Ellen L. Weintraub, a Democratic commissioner.
"Congress set this place up to gridlock," said Lee E. Goodman, a Republican commissioner. "This agency is functioning as Congress intended. The democracy isn't collapsing around us."