Reversing an earlier move, the Federal Election Comm’n voted to place back on the public record thousands of pages of documents regarding an FEC probe of AFL-CIO dealings with the Democratic Party.  FEC voted unanimously to reject requests from the labor federation and the Democratic Nat’l Committee to keep the documents confidential, according to a July 10 letter to DNC gen. counsel Joseph Sandler. In its initial response to the AFL-CIO and DNC requests, FEC in May had made an unprecedented decision to remove the case file from the public record. The letter said the file on the case (MUR 4291) would be made public again July 17. That gives AFL-CIO and DNC time to challenge the decision in court.

FEC acting gen. counsel Lois Lerner’s 20-page memo recommended that the documents be returned to the public record. It said: “There is nothing particularly secret about the fact that the Democratic Party engages in a coordinated grassroots campaign with its candidates and supporters during federal election years and there does not appear to be anything in those documents that would reveal any special techniques or demographic information that is not publicly available.”  FEC’s vote to accept the recommendations and put the file back on the record was 4-0. Voting were Democratic commissioners Danny McDonald and Scott Thomas, along with Republicans David Mason and Bradley Smith. Recused were Democrat Karl Sandstrom and Republican Darryl Wold. [BNA 7/12/01]

The Nat’l Legal & Pol’y Ctr. filed two Freedom of Info. Act requests (1) (2) July 3 to open not only the suppressed records but also the documents from AFL-CIO and DNC to FEC that successfully suppressed the records for a time.

“[S]ome corrupt unions and union officials are expanding their criminal activities beyond what historically has been recognized as labor racketeering. Individuals are using unions to carry out traditional vice schemes such as drug dealing and theft.”

-Office of the Inspector Gen., Dep’t of Labor, Semiannual Report to Congress, 10/1/00-3/31/01, at 8-9.