In November we asked why the President continues to ignore laws that have been put in place to protect the integrity of the election system. What we continue to find is that there is a pressing need for increased accountability, not just over election law, but in holding administration officials accountable.
In April 2012 when the Federal Election Commission approved an audit by a vote of 6-0 finding that the Obama for America campaign “did not file required 48-hour notices for 1,312 contributions totaling $1,972,266 that were received prior to the general election,” the Obama for America Campaign agreed to pay the FEC a $375,000 fine, the largest fine ever given to a presidential campaign. Obama campaign spokeswoman Katie Hogan downplayed the FEC investigation, but this audit demonstrated that the FEC will take violations and enforcement of the law seriously.
Will this commitment from the FEC serve as a catalyst in an Administration for greater transparency and oversight? If the best predictor of future success is past behavior, the future may not hold the “sunshine” we government accountability advocates long to see.
Take the following examples into consideration:
When Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius violated the Hatch Act she lamented that the ruling was “somewhat unfair” and her actions were “technical and minor.” Regardless, she still broke the law and is the highest Administration official to ever be found guilty of a Hatch Act violation, yet she received no formal punishment for her actions.
National Labor Relations Board General Counsel Lafe Solomon was not prosecuted for violating conflict of interest laws, but instead was excused by the Board’s Office of Inspector General by a claim of “extenuating and mitigating circumstances.” According to a sworn affidavit by a former ethics officer at the NLRB, Solomon should not have been excused.
These are just two examples of a culture of abuse of power that seems to be carried out by the President and his Administration: First from his campaign, then through his first term. What will happen in his second term? The American people deserve public officials that are held accountable for their actions, and we will continue to call the President and his officials on the carpet in our demands for accountability and transparency.