New York Times: The Feckless F.E.C., Rebuked

In an era of unbridled campaign spending, the Federal Election Commission has consistently and shamefully ducked its responsibilities. It has made it possible for tax-exempt “social welfare” organizations to operate as partisan attack machines. And it has dismissed complaints and failed to police this rise of “dark money” from hidden donors that is pouring into elections.

While most campaign professionals treat the F.E.C. as an impotent joke, a Federal District Court judge shed light this week on the commission’s dereliction. Judge Christopher Cooper ordered the commission to reconsider its dismissal of complaints against two conservative groups that claimed to meet the nonpartisan requirement for tax-exempt “social welfare” agencies, even while they financed television ads in 2010 targeting Democratic candidates.