August 21, 2009
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear President Obama:
We write on behalf of the Committee for a Unified Independent Party/IndependentVoting.org and our local affiliates in 37 states. We believe that the time has come to appoint one or more independents to the Federal Election Commission and hope you will do so.
As you know, the American electorate has changed dramatically since the FEC was created in 1975, part of an effort to reform our country’s political process. In many respects, your election as President was a statement by the American people that we must find ways to create a new political culture. That change is happening “on the ground” in significant ways. For example, 39% of Americans now self-identify as independents, a startling fact in a system that is so totally anchored to two major parties. And, the institutions which regulate the electoral process must more accurately reflect the electorate. It is no longer the case that bi-partisanship can be equated with non-partisanship.
The Federal Election Campaign Act states that no more than three Commissioners may belong to the same political party. Since 1975, every president has adhered to this statute by ensuring that the FEC was comprised of three Democrats and three Republicans. This arrangement has rendered the FEC largely dysfunctional and has left millions of Americans without a voice in administering our democracy. It is not a healthy situation for those who choose to be Democrats and Republicans to have representation on the FEC while the 39% of the country who choose to be independent do not.
Mr. President, our appeal is not just an abstract plea for fairness. As currently constructed, the bi-partisan bias of the FEC has produced decisions which have impeded the development of democratic initiatives which emanate from independent voters and the third party or third force sector. At a time when many are seeking new and innovative forms of political expression and identity, the FEC has taken positions that reinforce the political status quo, whether by setting restrictive contribution limits for non-party actors, failing to police the conduct of the nationally televised presidential debates, or barring unorthodox independent coalitions from qualifying for public financing.
Your appointment of an independent or member of a third party to one or two of the remaining two FEC vacancies would be an important step in remedying this unfortunate situation. Independents from diverse segments of our movement will come together to prepare a list of candidates for your consideration if you give us the signal that you will entertain this request.
You have reached across party lines in making appointments to your cabinet. Our government is the better for it. We value and respect that. And we urge you to apply the same high standard when it comes to choosing the stewards of our country’s most valued asset: our democracy.
Jacqueline Salit, President Harry Kresky, Counsel
cc: Hon. John McCain
Hon. Russell Feingold
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