Bush Makes Deal on FEC Recess Appointment

President Bush on Friday placed Democratic attorney Ellen Weintraub on the Federal Election Commission.

In choosing Weintraub for the FEC post, Bush used his authority to make recess appointments — a way of temporarily filling administration jobs when Congress is out of session that bypasses Senate confirmation proceedings. The appointment lasts only until the end of the next Congress.

Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle, D-S.D., recommended Weintraub for the FEC spot in May. Bush sent her nomination to Capitol Hill on Nov. 19, but it was not acted on by the full Senate, White House spokeswoman Ashley Snee said.

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., had secured Bush's promise to place Weintraub on the commission earlier this year, and an agreement was reached to name her by recess appointment after the lack of action in the Senate, Snee said.

The only delay in making that appointment came from Weintraub herself, who notified the White House of issues that needed examination that were resolved by Thursday, Snee said.

An administration official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the questions involved areas of possible conflict of interest from Weintraub's law practice that turned out to be groundless.

McCain and other proponents of the new campaign finance law had been pressing for Weintraub to replace Democratic Commissioner Karl Sandstrom. Sandstrom has joined three Republican commissioners on several controversial 4-2 votes in recent months spelling out how the FEC will enforce new campaign finance restrictions.

The sponsors say those decisions opened loopholes; Sandstrom and the three Republicans contend they are simply exercising the latitude Congress gave them to interpret the law and trying to prevent the new rules from going further than Congress intended.

Weintraub is a lawyer with the Perkins Coie law firm in Washington, where her clients have included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and its House counterpart. Weintraub previously served as counsel to the House ethics committee.