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Obama Can No Longer Ignore the Federal Election Commission

Feb. 18, 2011

Obama Can No Longer Ignore the Federal Election Commission

Public Citizen Sends Open Letter to President Obama

 WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Obama administration should seize the opportunity afforded by the expiration of terms for five commissioners on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to break the deadlock that has immobilized the agency over the past few years, Public Citizen told the president in a letter today.

 The letter noted that “the FEC has become hopelessly dysfunctional, tied up in a wave of 3-to-3 partisan deadlocks that prevents the agency from promulgating rules, issuing advisory opinions and enforcing the law.” The deadlock has immobilized the agency, signaling to political operatives that they may safely ignore federal campaign finance laws.

“Historically, fewer than 2 percent of all enforcement actions were stymied by deadlocked votes,” the letter said. “In 2009, that percentage skyrocketed eightfold – with 16 percent of all enforcement actions stalled by deadlocked votes that year and 11 percent in 2010.”

 In the letter, Public Citizen explained that a principal force behind these deadlocks is Commissioner Don McGahn, a former ethics advisor to former Rep. Tom DeLay, who was recently convicted of money laundering. Republican members of the FEC have rallied around McGahn and coalesced into a voting bloc committed to reversing established regulations, such as the disclosure requirements, and preventing critical enforcement actions.

 The letter repeats earlier calls for President Barack Obama to intervene and fix the FEC. With Congress so far unable to pass legislation that would re-establish the disclosure requirements undermined by the elections agency, it is imperative that a new, more responsible FEC be in place for the upcoming 2012 elections.

“As nearly all FEC commissioners are about to exceed their statutory terms, the time is long overdue for the Obama administration to give due diligence to the agency that is supposed to enforce our campaign finance laws. The president must appoint new commissioners who will pursue their regulatory duties responsibly and professionally,” the letter said.

To read the letter, go to: https://www.citizen.org/sites/default/files/open-letter-to-obama-re-fec-20110218.pdf.

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Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit public interest organization based in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit www.citizen.org.