The President took a step forward toward making elections less partisan and more open fair and honest with the Presidential Commission on Election Administration he announced in his 2013 State of the Union. While parts of the report of the commission were Democrat talking points (more early voting despite the overwhelming evidence that early voting does not help with turnout), the report led by his own former counsel Robert Bauer had a number of items RNLA could agree with and that garnered support from all sides of the political spectrum.
Now, however, he is taking two steps backward on election administration with a nominee put forward as a political reward with ZERO background in Election Administration. As Hans von Spakovsky highlights:
On Nov. 19, the White House issued a press release announcing that it was withdrawing the nomination of Myrna Perez, a lawyer at the Brennan Center, to be a commissioner on the U.S. Election Assistance Commission (EAC). It instead nominated Matthew S. Butler, the former CEO and president of the George Soros-funded left-wing advocacy group Media Matters, to replace her.
The EAC is a bipartisan agency created in 2004 by the Help America Vote Act of 2002, the election reform law that Congress passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential election and the controversy over what happened in Florida. The EAC, which is governed by four full-time commissioners — two Democrats and two Republicans — is supposed to assist and guide state and local election administrators in improving the administration of elections for federal office. The EAC serves as a national clearinghouse and resource for information about the best practices in election administration. It is also responsible for the accreditation of testing laboratories and the certification, decertification, and recertification of voting systems, like the electronic voting machines many people use when they vote in their precincts. . . .
He[Butler] has been a leader and organizer of the progressive movement, and the head of Media Matters when it was acting as an unofficial PR wing of the White House and the Justice Department. As first reported in 2012 by Matthew Boyle , the administration was working with Media Matters “in an attempt to quell news stories about scandals plaguing [Eric] Holder and America’s top law enforcement agency,” including using Media Matters “to attack reporters” at Townhall, Breitbart, The Daily Caller, Fox News, and National Review.
The other three new commissioners on the EAC, in stark contrast to the former Media Matters CEO and president, actually have relevant election experience.
. . . Most disappointingly, the nomination of an individual with no relevant experience in the area he is tasked with administering looks like political patronage of the worst kind. President Obama has rewarded Media Matters for its underhanded, deceitful, behind-the-scenes help in going after reporters and others who were raising legitimate concerns about the questionable actions of the administration. This also does not portend well for having a bipartisan agency that tries to act in the best interests of the American voter as opposed to the best interests of one particular political party and its candidates.
President Obama has been using Ambassadorships to pay off political supporters for a while. This is arguably much worse as this a position with a serious opportunity for political mischief. We can only hope that Mr. Butler’s nomination is withdrawn before the next Congress. If not, we hope that Democrats will join with Republicans in opposing this unqualified partisan. Shame on President Obama for walking away from his 2013 State of the Union commitment on election administration.