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Steptoe & Johnson’s John Duffy found out that taking your problems with the Federal Election Commission to the press can earn you a tongue-lashing. At the commission’s meeting on July 20, Commissioner Hans von Spakovsky rebuked Duffy, counsel to Unity08, for criticizing the partisan nature of the FEC in the July 17 issue of Roll Call. Duffy was quoted as saying, “When you try to do something that’s different in the electoral process, the FEC gets in the way because they’re controlled by the two parties.” Von Spakovsky says he has never been called by the Republican National Committee to discuss how he should vote on issues. Despite the confrontation, the commissioners put off deciding whether to sanction Unity08 as a political party until the last week in August, citing two days of internal hearings on why they were unprepared to go forward. Still, the outlook isn’t rosy for Unity08. The FEC general counsel’s advisory opinion called for Unity08 to register as a political committee because it plans to endorse a presidential nominee for the 2008 election, which would cap individual donations at $5,000. And it seems Duffy was listening to von Spakovsky’s advice. This time around he says he is “delighted” by the commission’s decision and “impressed by [its] analysis” of the issues.
Anna Palmer can be contacted at [email protected].

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