August 27, 2011

The FEC's upcoming blunder

Courtesy of
This might be off the beaten path of electoral politics, but it still seems unnecessarily wrong.  As a full disclaimer this is not in any way related to birtherism, but is a legal matter related to an FEC ruling. 

While the FEC may be technically correct in it's narrow band of responsibility, the disconnect from practicality exemplifies the problems with bureaucracy.

According to Roll Call,
The Federal Election Commission is showing signs that it might allow a Guyana-born American citizen to file papers and raise money to run for president of the United States. 
The agency released two draft advisory opinions Friday that could permit New York lawyer Abdul Hassan to go through the initial steps to run for president. But the FEC’s pending decision won’t be the last word on the constitutional issue of whether someone born outside the United States can be president.
But it's a little more clear cut than that. According to the opinion of the Federal Election Commission, Mr. Hassan is not a natural born citizen, but a naturalized citizen. Naturalization is the acquisition of citizenship and nationality by somebody who was not a citizen or national of that country when he or she was born.

From the FEC opinion it is clear that Mr. Hassan is not a natural born citizen;
As a naturalized American citizen, will Mr. Hassan be considered a  "candidate " or "person " running for President under the Act?  
Yes, as a naturalized American citizen, Mr. Hassan may be a "candidate" and   
"person" as those terms are defined in the Act.   
The Act defines "candidate" as "an individual who seeks nomination for election, 
or election, to Federal office." 2 U.S.C. 431(2); see also 11 CFR 100.3. An individual 
becomes a candidate when he or she "has received contributions aggregating in excess of 
$5000 or has made expenditures aggregating in excess of $5000." 2 U.S.C. 431(2); see  
also 11 CFR 100.3.  
The Act and the Commission's regulations do not address a candidate's status as 
either a natural born citizen or naturalized citizen. Thus, the Act's definition of "candidate" 
applies broadly to all individuals, regardless of whether an individual is a 
natural born citizen or a naturalized citizen
Even more clear is the footnote;
Although Mr. Hassan may not be eligible under Article II, Section 1 of the U.S. Constitution to assume the office of the presidency because he is not a natural born citizen, it is not for the Commission to decide on this basis that Mr. Hassan may not be a candidate for that office...
The FEC is splitting hairs to cover itself. Afraid to make a ruling, it doesn't want to impede the man's ability to run, but it is skirting the various clauses of the Constitution regarding natural born citizens (Section I Article II, the Twelfth Amendment and Fourteenth Amendment) and eligibility required to run for the presidency. It may claim, as it does further on in that footnote, that such a decision on eligibility is beyond the scope of it's adjudicative power, and perhaps legally it is.  But to allow a man to run for a presidency which he cannot legal claim if he were to win, is a ludicrous outcome to their decision.  They are in effect saying, go ahead and spend your money and time to run for election to the one office the Constitution says you cannot hold, even if you win.

The FEC should at least amend it's opinion to state that Mr. Hassan seek a legal ruling on the matter prior to wasting money on a run.  While Mr. Hassan may not expect to win but hope only to gain a platform for some issue he wishes to have a spotlight on, that does not absolve the FEC from proper due diligence in its opinion,  While the FEC may be technically correct in it's narrow band of responsibility, the disconnect from practicality exemplifies the problems with bureaucracy.

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