We expect candidates for federal office to follow our campaign finance laws, but the FEC – the agency charged with enforcing those laws – is completely dysfunctional.
Three of the six commissioners staunchly refuse to enforce the law and five of the six are serving despite expired terms.
Prior to your election, you professed support for campaign finance reform. We agree with you that the Citizens United Supreme Court decision was disastrous and the failure of Congress to require disclosure of campaign-related spending was outrageous. Nevertheless, you have failed to appoint new commissioners who actually would enforce such laws.
To restore some faith into the democratic process, we urge you to nominate new commissioners to the FEC prior to the 2012 elections.
Response to Petition
By Tonya Robinson
Thank you for signing the petition "Nominate New Commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC)." We appreciate your participation in the We the People platform on WhiteHouse.gov.
The FEC is an independent agency charged with administering and enforcing the laws that govern the financing of federal elections, including campaign contribution limits and disclosure requirements. By law, no more than three of the six members of the Commission can be members of the same political party, and at least four votes are required for significant Commission actions.
While the Administration doesn't comment publicly about the President's personnel decisions before he makes them, the Obama Administration is committed to nominating highly qualified individuals to lead the FEC. The agency, and the system of open and fair elections that the FEC is charged with protecting, deserve no less.
The Administration also shares your commitment to the enforcement of our campaign finance laws, but simply enforcing our existing laws is not enough. This Administration has been unequivocal in its opposition to the Supreme Court's 2010 decision in Citizens United v. FEC (pdf), which struck down critical elements of our campaign finance laws and opened the floodgates for big corporations and other special interests to spend unlimited amounts of undisclosed money to influence our elections.
In 2010, President Obama strongly supported the DISCLOSE Act, a bill that would have reversed some of the damage from Citizens United by establishing the toughest-ever disclosure requirements for election-related spending. Unfortunately, however, the DISCLOSE Act was blocked by Republicans in the Senate, who refused to permit an up-or-down vote on the legislation.
The Obama Administration continues to support legislation that would allow the American people to see clearly who is funding campaign activity. And the President also has proposed other reforms that would plug the holes in our current laws and limit the influence of money in politics, such as his call in the State of the Union Address for legislation to "make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can't lobby Congress, and vice versa." This Administration is fully committed to such reforms and to strong enforcement of our campaign finance laws.
Tonya Robinson is Special Assistant to the President for Justice and Regulatory Policy