[Image courtesy of washingtonpost]
***THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED – SEE BELOW***
Recently, I mused about the future of the Election Assistance Commission in the wake of the 2014 election and related litigation – and it would appear that all of a sudden the future is now.
On one side of the aisle, there are signs of progress: the Senate Rules Committee will be holding a hearing at 2pm today on the two Republican nominees, Christy McCormick and Matthew Masterson.
On the other side of the aisle, however, we have continued intrigue. As was rumored late last week, Democratic nominee Myrna Perez of the Brennan Center has withdrawn her name from consideration. No reason for the withdrawal was given, but a good guess is the combination of an incoming GOP Senate majority and the Brennan Center’s high-profile (if not well-sourced) claims that new voting laws supported by the GOP affected outcomes in 2014. [UPDATE: I have learned from a source close to the process that Perez withdrew her candidacy BEFORE Election Day. The confirmation challenges with a GOP Senate may still have been considerable but her withdrawal had nothing to do with what happened in the 2014 election – or afterwards.]
The White House has designated Matthew Butler (pictured above) as the new second Democratic nominee alongside Thomas Hicks. Butler is a former CEO of Media Matters and now is part of a consulting group that offers “planning and production experience.” Here’s Butler’s bio from the firm’s site:
Matthew Butler is a political and non-profit management consultant with almost twenty years of experience managing people and money towards social interest goals. Most recently, Butler served as the President and CEO of Media Matters for America the largest and most influential progressive non-profit organization dedicated to challenging conservative misinformation in the media with an annual budget of $11M and a staff of seventy. While at Media Matters, TED named MediaMatters.org to its list of top 100 websites people should know and use. Butler also created the Progressive Talent Initiative a full-service media training and booking operation that has become an essential part of the progressive infrastructure.
Butler has over fifteen years of professional campaign experience. He has served as Deputy Campaign Manager and Chief Financial Officer for the Presidential campaigns of John Kerry and Chris Dodd, as well as Campaign Manager for Maria Cantwell’s successful 2006 reelection. In 2008 Butler was the lead American consultant for the Romanian Minister of Defense’s winning Parliamentary Campaign in Ploieşti, Romania.
Butler was also an attorney with the firm of Haight, Brown & Bonesteel, LLP in Santa Monica. Before that, Butler worked for the Clinton 1996 and Gore 2000 Presidential races managing coordinated campaign expenditures at the Democratic National Committee. He holds a B.A. in International Studies from American University,
At this point, it would appear that the Democrats have made the decision to trade a potentially controversial (and therefore problematic) pick for one that is lower-profile, albeit just as partisan.
I’ve given up predicting what will happen to the EAC, but I am very confident that whatever it is, it will come with lots of intrigue and controversy. Sadly, I have to agree with Rick Hasen:
[T]here was a time when a few courageous EAC commissioners could have made the Commission something to get above the partisan sniping. But they were shut down and that moment regrettably has passed.
Sigh. [Stay tuned …]