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Published — December 23, 2013 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

White House stays mum on troubles with election regulator

Seems like everyone’s talking about mess at FEC but the president


The White House (Evan Bush/Center for Public Integrity)

A Center for Public Integrity investigation that last week unearthed numerous problems at the Federal Election Commission sparked a wave of news articles, various blog items andopinion pieces and coverage on CNN, Fox News, MSNBC and C-SPAN about the troubled agency.

FEC commissioners had plenty to say, too. So who isn’t talking? The White House.

Since the investigation’s publication, the Center tried a half-dozen times to obtain comment from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Phone messages weren’t returned.

White House Deputy Press Secretary Eric Schultz, who declined to comment on the Center’s alarming findings regarding the FEC prior to publication of its investigation, did not reply to several emails sent on different days.

His press office colleagues did not respond, nor did they explain why the White House is remaining mum on FEC-related issues.

The Center sought answers to several basic questions regarding the dire situation at the FEC, which the government has tasked to “prevent corruption in the federal campaign process by administering, enforcing and formulating policy”:

  • How concerned is the White House that Chinese hackers were able to infiltrate the FEC’s information technology systems as the government began to shut down on Oct. 1?
  • Should the FEC receive additional funding and/or resources to address the IT problems reported in the Center’s investigation?
  • Does the White House intend to support any or all of the legislative recommendations that the FEC unanimously approved at a meeting last week?
  • When does the president intend to nominate new FEC commissioners to fill the slots now occupied by four commissioners whose terms have expired?

The Center is also curious what the White House thinks of a Partnership for Public Service survey out last week that ranked the FEC No. 28 out of 29 small government agencies — its lowest score ever — in terms of employee satisfaction and commitment.

The FEC earned bottom-of-the-barrel marks for “effective leadership,” “strategic management,” “support for diversity” and whether employees feel their skills are being properly used by managers.

Although the White House press office couldn’t find time to answer the Center’s questions about the FEC, it has been busy today.

For example, it notified reporters that the president is designating Curaçao as the beneficiary nation of aid through the Caribbean Basin Economic Recovery Act and Caribbean Basin Trade Partnership Act.

It passed along an executive order in which the president announced pay rate adjustments for some federal workers.

It further provided reporters a list of 102 recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists and Engineers, the “highest honor bestowed by the United States Government on science and engineering professionals in the early stages of their independent research careers.”

Schultz, who handles most questions about campaign finance and elections matters for the White House, has been active on Twitter lately. He’s even tweeted about hacking threats, although it had nothing to do with Chinese hackers attacking the FEC’s computer systems.

The president himself is on Christmas break in Hawaii, where according to a White House press pool report this afternoon, he has spent much of the day golfing.

Read more in Money and Democracy

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