White House: Still No Response from White House on FEC Replacement Petition: Reformers Ask Why?
A dozen government integrity groups yesterday asked President Obama to appoint new commissioners to the completely dysfunctional Federal Election Commission (FEC) and requested a response guaranteed by the White House regarding the successful petition drive.
“The FEC is an agency with a long, disturbing history of not doing its job, but today has reached a low ebb by any measurement,” said Meredith McGehee, Campaign Legal Center Policy Director. “In particular, the Republican Commissioners are blatantly refusing to enforce any laws they don’t personally agree with or which they feel might be detrimental to GOP fundraising. Then-Senator Obama promised to address the broken agency while running for President, but his lack of action to date and his lone nomination indicate the White House is comfortable with business as usual at the FEC.”
In the letter sent to the White House, the organizations reminded President Obama that it has been two months since the 25,000-signature threshold was reached on the White House website. The website guarantees a response for those petitions reaching the threshold.
The letter emphasizes that FEC is a broken agency and is now the responsibility of the White House:
The national scandal at the FEC is your responsibility to address; the agency will not change until you exercise your executive branch authority to nominate new commissioners. It is essential that these nominations be based on merit, skills, qualifications, experience, background and professional reputation. It is also imperative for nominee to have a basic commitment to enforcing the campaign finance laws as written by Congress and interpreted by the courts. Individuals ideologically opposed to campaign finance regulation have no place on the commission.
The groups signing the letter with The Campaign Legal Center included: Americans for Campaign Reform, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Common Cause,
CREDO Action Network, Democracy 21, League of Women Voters of the U.S., MapLight, Public Campaign, Public Citizen, United Republic and U.S. PIRG.
The full text of the letter follows below.
April 11, 2012 President Barack ObamaThe White House1600 Pennsylvania Ave., NWWashington, D.C. 20500 Dear Mr. President: Yesterday marked two months since our organizations successfully reached 25,000 signatures on our petition, calling on you to nominate new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) who will faithfully enforce existing campaign finance laws and close existing loopholes. Our broad coalition still awaits your response as promised by the process established by the White House that clearly states there will be a response when 25,000 or more signatures are submitted on a petition. The FEC is widely recognized as a dysfunctional agency that consistently refuses to enforce federal campaign finance laws enacted to prevent the corruption of federal officeholders and government decisions. Five of the six current commissioners are serving despite expired terms, and three openly flaunt their routine refusal to enforce existing campaign finance laws, even where the FEC’s professional staff has called for an investigation. As the New York Timeseditorialized this past weekend, this is an unacceptable situation. During the 2008 presidential campaign you recognized the problems at the FEC and unequivocally called for new commissioners. In response to questions raised in September 2007, by the Midwest Democracy Alliance, you stated: I believe that the FEC needs to be strengthened and that individuals named to the Commission should have a demonstrated record of fair administration of the law and an ability to overcome partisan biases. My initial goal as president will be to determine whether we can make the FEC more effective through appointments. What the FEC needs most is strong, impartial leadership that will promote integrity in our election system. You also promised to appoint commissioners committed to enforcing our nation’s election laws. With the exception of one unsuccessful attempt in 2009, however, you have failed to nominate anyone to replace any of the five lame duck commissioners. The national scandal at the FEC is your responsibility to address; the agency will not change until you exercise your executive branch authority to nominate new commissioners. It is essential that these nominations be based on merit, skills, qualifications, experience, background and professional reputation. It is also imperative for nominee to have a basic commitment to enforcing the campaign finance laws as written by Congress and interpreted by the courts. Individuals ideologically opposed to campaign finance regulation have no place on the commission. Nominating commissioners based on merit and qualifications may well create conflict with congressional leaders accustomed to choosing commissioners themselves. Given the completely dysfunctional state of the FEC and the enormous damage that has been done to our campaign finance laws, however, we believe this is a fight worth having. Once appropriate nominations are made, the responsibility will pass to the Senate to address the FEC scandal. Senators will face a clear choice: vote to confirm new FEC commissioners selected on the basis of merit and qualifications, or vote to perpetuate a system undermining enforcement of the nation’s campaign finance law at a time when there is growing public anger over the money pouring into federal elections. The effort to remake the FEC and restore the integrity of our campaign finance laws cannot begin until you nominate new commissioners. Our coalition and an overwhelming majority of Americans strongly support your taking this important step on the road to reforming the FEC. Thank you for your consideration and we continue to await your response. Sincerely, Americans for Campaign ReformCampaign Legal CenterCitizens for Responsibility and Ethics in WashingtonCommon CauseCREDO Action NetworkDemocracy 21League of Women Voters of the U.S.MapLightPublic CampaignPublic CitizenUnited RepublicU.S. PIRG Editorial, That Campaign Promise About Campaigning, April 7, 2012.