FEC to politicians: Feel free to report yourself

What the hell? Via AP:

WASHINGTON – The Federal Election Commission on Thursday took steps to encourage politicians and contributors to report their own possible violations of campaign finance laws by offering them significantly reduced fines.

Commission officials said the number of self-reported violations has increased recently, prompting the need for a specific policy that spells out how the FEC will dispose of such cases.

“This is not meant to be a get out of jail free card,” said Commissioner Ellen Weintraub. “If you’re racing to the FEC three steps in front of the guy who’s got the complaint in his hand against you, this policy is probably not for you.”

Before fully adopting the policy, the commission has asked for public comment on the proposal by Jan. 29.

The proposal contains two penalty recommendations for violators who voluntarily blow the whistle on themselves. One would reduce civil penalties by 50 to 75 percent of standard fines, depending on the steps taken to report and correct the violation. Another would set the reduction at 50 percent, but give the commission leeway to lower or increase the discount based on mitigating factors.

“What this policy focuses on are people who come in and tell us things that we would not otherwise know,” Weintraub said.

Right! I’m sure at a time where campaign violations are used against a political opponent with a vengeance and will continue to do so, that politicans are going to be “encouraged” more now to step forth and admit they violated campaign laws, because their fines won’t be as big. Oh, and I don’t buy the bit in the article about “the number of self-reported violations has increased recently” because if they had, there would be no need to provide incentive to do so.

Is there anyone with a functioning brain at the FEC these days?

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