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FEC trembles at news of Lott's oversight hearings

Senate Rules Committee Chairman Trent Lott (R-Miss.), concerned by what many lawmakers consider the slow pace of enforcement at the Federal Election Commission (FEC), will hold the first Senate oversight hearing on the agency in nearly six years.

News of the upcoming hearing, scheduled for July 14, has caused consternation at the FEC, where officials fear Lott's action could be the first step in abolishing the agency.

Last year, Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) introduced legislation that would replace the bipartisan six-member commission with a single-administrator agency akin to the FBI.

Lott and other senators also will scrutinize the agency's decision not to implement rules curbing the activities of soft-money groups known as 527s. Democrats, who are relying heavily on such groups to fund their political activities this year, embraced the decision. But it disappointed many Republicans. -- Lott, other senators set to probe 'cumbersome' FEC (The Hill.com)