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FEC nominee von Spakovsky's hearing begins next week

The Washington Post reports: As his critics see it, Hans A. von Spakovsky used every opportunity he had over four years in the Justice Department to make it difficult for voters -- poor, minority and Democratic -- to go to the polls. During his tenure, more than half of the career lawyers in the voting section left in protest.

Von Spakovsky now serves as a temporary commissioner on the Federal Election Commission, the bipartisan body that enforces campaign finance regulations. And a Senate Rules Committee hearing set for Wednesday on whether to confirm him for a six-year term could become a critical moment in the debate over political influence in the Justice Department.

Voting rights activists and campaign finance watchdogs are urging lawmakers to take a stand against von Spakovsky's nomination. "He failed to understand his role was not to be a representative of the Republican Party," said Joseph Rich, a former voting section chief who worked under von Spakovsky, who was then counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights.

Von Spakovsky was appointed to the FEC in January 2006 during a congressional recess along with two Democrats. A fourth commissioner, a Republican, was renominated. All four will come before the Senate panel next week, but von Spakovsky is the most controversial. They all declined to comment before the hearing. -- Hearing on FEC Pick Could Add Fuel to Debate Over Justice Dept.

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