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A Times Editorial

Election law enforcement needs more teeth

The Republican members of the Federal Elections Commission have made a mockery of the nation's already weak campaign finance laws.

Records show the FEC had ample evidence last year that, for decades, Tampa-based engineering company PBSJ had given illegal campaign contributions to political candidates as it sought government contracts. But the commission's Republicans refused to pursue sanctions, forcing a 3-3 deadlock until the statute of limitations ran out this week.

Campaign finance laws don't have enough teeth. Many an election violation goes unpursued because it's discovered too late. Federal complaints have a five-year statute of limitations; Florida has a two-year limit. In this case the clock hadn't run out, yet three commissioners weren't interested in enforcing the law.

A handful of PBSJ officials have been convicted in federal court on connected charges. But the company — despite a culture that encouraged violating federal campaign finance laws for decades — will not be punished. What an insult to democracy.

Election law enforcement needs more teeth 04/02/10 [Last modified: Friday, April 2, 2010 7:49pm]
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