The chair of the Federal Election Commission said Thursday that the agency could and should be doing a better job of regulating the disclosure of money into federal elections.
“From my personal perspective, I think we can be doing more on disclosure and I think we should be,” FEC Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly said at an event hosted by the good government group Public Citizen. “I think the commission should consider after Citizens United whether our disclosure rules need updating.”
Bauerly said that she disagreed with the argument that many conservative groups are making that the First Amendment requires anonymous speech.
“Courts have previously held that interest in disclosure is important and essential to our democracy,” Bauerly said.
Pointing to a quote from an opinion issued by Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia who wrote that “Requiring people to stand up in public for their political acts fosters civic courage, without which democracy is doomed.”
“You probably wouldn’t find me quoting Justice Scalia that often,” Bauerly joked. “But I think he’s right, I think civic courage is somewhat of a tradition in this country. When it was the soapbox on the corner, you knew who was speaking. Transparency and disclosure has been an integral part of self-governance and civic courage.”
The FEC will be reconsidering whether to look at reforming those rules at their meeting next week. A previous vote to file a notice of proposed rule-making deadlocked in January.
She acknowledged that the FEC was “not doing as much as I might like or some of my colleagues might like,” but didn’t advocate for a particular solution to the frequent three-to-three deadlocks.
“I think it’s partly a challenge of structure,” Bauerly said, describing the FEC as a “reactive” agency from an administrative point of view. “I think that it is a challenge of structure, but there are mechanisms to force us to do what we can.”
“It is a group of six individuals and all of us are trying to serve the agency in a way what we might see fit,” Bauerly said.