About 30 House Democrats on Wednesday wrote President Obama urging him to make recess appointments to fill Federal Election Commission
vacancies. The FEC, the letter says, "was created by Congress to be the public's watch dog overseeing federal elections. Partisan gridlock at the FEC and in the United States Senate, however, has rendered the FEC feckless at a moment when their guidance and enforcement is needed most."
In an effort to reduce the influence of secret and corporate money in
elections, the lawmakers also called on the IRS to
investigate whether some 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare
organizations, which do not have to disclose their donors, are violating
laws by focusing on political campaign advocacy.
"We're entering a free-for-all now in this campaign system that's really been unseen since the Gilded Age," Rep. Ted Deutch
(D-Fla.) said at a press conference with Rep. Peter Welch
(D-Vt.). "We're supposed to have fair elections somehow without enforcement."
Deutch and Welch said their ultimate goal was to pass a constitutional amendment to overturn the Supreme Court's Citizens United
decision, but said they took these more immediate steps to try to blunt the case's effects.
They sought to frame campaign finance reform as a bipartisan issue -- "I don't think there's anything partisan about trying to ensure a greater sense of integrity in the electoral process," Deutch said. -- while focusing their attacks on Republican super PACs and conservative nonprofit organizations.
The two Democrats criticized the electoral roles played by super PACs supporting GOP presidential candidates and Crossroads GPS and FreedomWorks - two conservative independent advocacy organizations - as they made their point about the influence of corporate and secret money.
They said they were also concerned about Democratic super PACs, but when asked if they were disappointed in President Obama for allowing administration officials to attend fundraising events for the super PAC supporting him, Welch side stepped the question and returned to his Supreme Court talking points.
"I'm disappointed in Citizens United," he said. "In campaigns, people are going to do what they can legally do."