The White House on Friday responded to a petition from watchdog groups calling for the replacement of five Federal Election Commission (FEC) commissioners before the 2012 election, but declined to comment on either a timeline or possible candidates. Ten campaign finance reform groups created a “We the People” petition calling on the Obama administration to replace five out of six commissioners. The five commissioners’ terms have expired and the commission’s deadlock is holding back further clarifications on significant issues coming out of the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court ruling, the advocates said. While the White House emphasized the president’s similar distaste for the Citizens United decision and his support for reform, the letter stated personnel choices would not be disclosed publicly prior to final decisions.
“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,” Special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy Tonya Robinson said. “The agency, and the system of open and fair elections that the FEC is charged with protecting, deserve no less.”
The White House also pointed to Congress as the vehicle needed to move campaign finance reform forward. Robinson emphasized the need for additional laws to be created since “critical elements of our campaign finance laws” were “struck down” by Citizens United. President Obama has supported the Disclose Act, a 2010 bill presented in different versions since Citizens United that sought to add disclosure requirements and close foreign influence loopholes.