Members of the left, panicked that President Obama is not acting fast enough to regulate campaign financing, have issued shrill warnings about his slowness to politicize the Federal Election Commission. The FEC has five commissioners, three of whom are Republicans, and the Republicans are trying to protect free speech by refusing to require groups that make political ads to reveal who their donors are.
Meanwhile, Obama, who could nominate replacements for the five commissioners serving under expired terms, hasn’t acted yet.
Melanie Sloan, executive director of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, whined:
Assurances from the White House that the president really, really cares about campaign finance law are no substitute for real action. The president has declined to exert his authority to fix the FEC. What is he waiting for? Given the completely dysfunctional state of the FEC and the enormous damage that has been done to our campaign finance laws, this is a fight worth having.
Tonya Robinson, special assistant to the president for justice and regulatory policy, defended the UberBoss:
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.
Trying to stall for time, she noted that the Administration has been “unequivocal in its opposition” to the Citizens United case.
Why would Obama wait? After all, we know Obama is for interfering in free speech; this is the same Barack Obama who railed against the Citizens United case in his State of the Union Address in 2010:
Last week, the Supreme Court reversed a century of law to open the floodgates for special interests–including foreign corporations–to spend without limit in our elections. Well I don’t think American elections should be bankrolled by America’s most powerful interests, or worse, by foreign entities. They should be decided by the American people.
Justice Samuel Alito, seated in the audience, mouthed silently, “Not true!”
And Obama backs the DISCLOSE Act, a bill which could have run afoul of Citizens United by expanding disclosure requirements for donations to political groups.
So what’s he waiting for?
Reelection, perhaps. To start politicizing the FEC now might imperil his chances; most citizens of this country still believe in free speech. And there is no doubt that if reelected, Obama will abrogate free speech ASAP. His senior advisor David Axelrod said that if Obama is reelected, he will use whatever tools are available to invalidate the Citizens United case.
If Obama gets his way, you won’t see grassroots campaigns like Rick Santorum’s or Newt Gingrich’s anymore. But for the moment, Obama is hiding his leftist agenda so he can try to appear moderate.
And the left isn’t about to stay silent about that.