President Obama Rewards Media Matters with a Political Nomination

With a quiet, almost unnoticed nomination just before Thanksgiving, President Barack Obama rewarded Media Matters for its help in attacking reporters and critics of the administration. At the same time, he virtually guaranteed that a federal agency that is supposed to improve the administration of elections will instead become a partisan battleground intended to help his political party.

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.

The four commission slots have been empty for several years, as Republicans and Democrats fought over the need for the continued existence of this agency.

In fact, just on Tuesday, Dec. 16, the Senate finally confirmed three other nominees for the EAC.  The common characteristic of its new commissioners -- and past commissioners like Paul DeGregorio or Donetta Davidson -- has been that most of them were experienced election administrators at the state and local level, or at least election lawyers familiar with the federal and state election laws that apply to the administration of elections. That is a necessity given the EAC’s responsibility for helping improve the election process.

That is not a characteristic shared by Mr. Butler, as you'll see on the next page.