Obama Stands Aside as Election-Law Enforcement Weakened
Barack Obama pledged as a
presidential candidate to strengthen the Federal Election
Commission and nominate members “committed to enforcing our
nation’s election laws.”
Since taking office, he hasn’t pushed for achievement of
The president has taken no action to reshape the FEC, even
as five of the six commissioners are serving on expired terms.
In the meantime, the FEC deadlocked along party lines on whether
to consider requiring nonprofits spending millions of dollars on
political ads to disclose their donors.
“President Obama should be held responsible for his
failure to at the very least nominate replacement
commissioners,” said Paul Ryan, a lawyer for the Campaign Legal
Center, which seeks stronger oversight of political giving.
“Notwithstanding his promises to the contrary on the campaign
trail, cleaning up Washington has not been a high priority for
The president’s inaction on an issue he used to distinguish
himself during his Senate career and on the presidential
campaign trail is among those that may depress enthusiasm among
the Democratic Party’s activists.
Almost half of the record $745 million he raised in 2008
came from contributions of $200 or less, and some of those
donors were motivated by his call to overhaul the campaign-
finance system, said Justin Ruben, executive director of
Moveon.org, an online organization with 7 million members who
worked to elect Obama.
“There’s no question that part of the change people voted
for was to change a system that is dominated by big money and
shut out their voices,” Ruben said. “The political process is
broken. One thing we can do is campaign-finance reform.”
The president’s re-election campaign now faces a new foe: a
crop of independent Republican committees formed in 2010,
financed by secret donors and bent on defeating him. Crossroads
Grassroots Policy Strategies, an organization formed with
guidance from Karl Rove, top political adviser to President
George W. Bush, and its affiliate American Crossroads have set a
goal of raising more than $240 million to beat Obama and
Democratic House and Senate candidates.
Eric Schultz, a White House spokesman, said FEC
replacements are coming.
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