January 25, 2012

Glad You Mentioned the Problem of Money in Politics, Mr. President, But What About the FEC?

By Jeremy Miller

Barack ObamaIn his State of the Union speech to Congress last evening, President Obama said: “Let’s make sure people who bundle campaign contributions for Congress can’t lobby Congress, and vice versa – an idea that has bipartisan support, at least outside of Washington.”  He also endorsed legislation to ban insider trading by Members of Congress and to limit any elected officials from owning stocks in industries they impact.  We here at CREW couldn’t agree more. 

This past weekend marked the two-year anniversary of one of the most disastrous Supreme Court decisions on record.  So it was a pity the president didn’t seize the moment to reflect on the broken campaign finance system left in the wake of Citizens United and the utterly dysfunctional non-enforcement agency we have in the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Like many of you, we here at CREW are keeping a close eye on the 2012 election cycle.  We are already seeing unprecedented amounts of special interest and secret money used to create the ads that flood our airwaves.  We’re also learning exactly how powerful super PACs can be: without $10 million in contributions to his super PAC by just one family, Newt Gingrich would have been forced out of the race.  Meanwhile, the FEC remains derelict. 

CREW and a broad coalition of campaign finance and election reform groups have long been calling on President Obama to step up to the plate and fulfill his obligation to nominate new commissioners to the FEC. Ever since the failed nomination of his first nominee John Sullivan three years, however, he has remained silent.  Meanwhile, five of the six commissioners serve despite expired terms, and two of them resolutely refuse to enforce our campaign finance laws.  This is unacceptable.

Consequently, using a vehicle set up by the White House CREW and others have launched a petition asking President Obama to nominate new commissioners to the FEC.  If we reach 25,000 signatures by February 10th, the president will respond to our request.  President Obama can’t force Congress to pass campaign finance reform measures such as enhanced disclosures, but he certainly can and should begin the process of reforming the FEC by nominating five new commissioners.  Senate Republicans, led by Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) are adamantly opposed to enforcement of campaign finance laws and will undoubtedly block any nominees, but most Americans are repulsed by all the money flowing into our electoral system and want to see our political leaders take action.  This is a fight worth having.  

If you haven’t done so already, please take five minutes to sign the petition

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