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Former President Trump arrived at Trump Tower last Sunday. Photo: James Devaney/GC Images

A "perfect storm" of procedural blockades prevented the investigation and sanctioning of alleged Trump campaign election law violations, regulators said this week.

Why it matters: Legitimate cases are being dismissed. And critics say the Federal Election Commission's inability to crack down on many bad actors has undercut the threat of enforcement, and turned campaign financing into the Wild West.

What's new: The FEC is clearing out a backlog of Trump-related cases. One of them, officially tossed last month, shows how the nation's top political money regulator has been hobbled.

  • The case stemmed from a December 2015 complaint lodged by a pro-Jeb Bush super PAC.
  • It alleged that a pair of Trump Organization employees, Michael Cohen and Alan Garten, had illegally used corporate resources to support Trump's presidential campaign.
  • "The record supports these allegations," declared two of the FEC's Democratic commissioners in a statement on Wednesday.

Both of those commissioners, and their four colleagues, nonetheless voted to close out the case.

  • It wasn't for lack of evidence. Separate criminal investigations, including Robert Mueller's election-meddling probe, provided ample evidence that Trump effectively took illegal corporate contributions by enlisting Cohen and Garten in his presidential campaign.
  • But the FEC had to wait for those separate investigations to end before taking its own enforcement action.
  • When that finally concluded, the FEC had just three commissioners — one short of the quorum necessary to take any enforcement action.
  • By the time a quorum was restored and the FEC actually took up the case, the five-year statute of limitations had run out.

What they're saying: "The commission found itself in the middle of a perfect storm of unique and unfortunate circumstances that prevented it from moving forward in this case," the two Democrats, FEC chair Shana Broussard and commissioner Ellen Weintraub, wrote this week.

  • "[A]t the time the commission was finally able to consider and vote on this matter, we were ultimately left with no meaningful enforcement options."

Go deeper

Trump deposed under oath in lawsuit over 2015 protest

Former President Trump speaks to supporters during a rally at the Iowa State Fairgrounds. Photo: Scott Olson via Getty Images

Former President Trump was questioned under oath for several hours on Monday in a deposition related to a 2015 lawsuit, CNN reports.

Why it matters: The suit alleges that Trump's security guards assaulted six people outside Trump Tower in New York while they were protesting Trump's derogatory comments about Mexico and Mexican immigrants.

Applicants pour in for Philadelphia's new police oversight commission

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Philadelphia has received at least 212 applications so far from individuals seeking to sit on its new Citizens Police Oversight Commission, city spokesperson Kevin Lessard told Axios.

What's happening: The selection panel is considering applications for the independent, nine-member commission on a rolling basis.

  • The deadline to apply is Nov. 5, and the panel is expected to put forward its slate of candidates before the year's end, Lessard said in an email.
  • The city council has final say on who serves on the commission.
Updated Oct 19, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Trump sues National Archives, Jan. 6 committee to block records request

Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Former President Trump filed a lawsuit Monday seeking to block the National Archives from releasing White House records to the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection, citing executive privilege.

Why it matters: It's the latest escalation in Trump's campaign to disrupt the committee's sweeping probe into the circumstances surrounding Jan. 6, including his actions and communications leading up to the Capitol attack.