The White House responded Friday to more than 100,000 Americans who demanded that President Obama force federal contractors to disclose their campaign contributions within 24 hours — by telling them to wait and see.
Nearluy 118,000 individuals signed a petition on the White House's "We the People" platform, saying Obama needs to act unilaterally to impose the new disclosure requirement on firms receiving federal funds, given the fact that they are making these donations through shadowy third-party groups in the wake of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling in the case Citizens United.
The petitioners also told the president to call on his appointees to the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Internal Revenue Service and Federal Communications Commission "to use their authority to unmask secret political donors, and fill all 5 [Federal Election Commission] openings with nominees who will enforce the law."
"You have tools at your disposal to fight this influx of secret money into politics," the petition read. "But you have done nothing."
In what it billed as "an initial reply" to the appeal, the administration noted that Obama highlighted campaign reform as a priority in his State of the Union address last month.
"From pushing for reform that modernizes our current voting system to highlighting the negative impacts of gerrymandered districts, the President is exploring every step he can take during his last year in office to make sure everyone's voice can be heard, not just the voices of those with money and power," it read.
But White House officials noted that in that same speech, the president said the nation's citizens, not just its elected leaders, needed to help bring about change.
"So thank you for sharing your views on this platform," it concluded. "We encourage you to continue to raise your voices and we will update you on the related actions President Obama is taking on this issue."
The petition organizers were unimpressed.
“This statement released by the White House is nothing short of offensive to the millions of Americans demanding an end to secret money influencing elections," said Kurt Walters, campaign manager at Rootstrikers, in a statement. “The Obama administration’s reply to our petition proves activists are right: After pledging to prioritize the issue, President Obama has been a complete failure against big money in politics, with no accomplishments to point to."
White House officials are weighing whether to impose the disclosure requirements on corporations that currently have federal contracts, over the objections of congressional Republicans, and Obama is slated to give a speech Wednesday in Springfield, Ill.--where he launched his first presidential bid nine years ago--about how to pursue his vision of "better politics."
Some other campaign reform activists have said quietly they expect Obama to take executive action on disclosure within a matter of weeks, though there is no specific timing for an announcement.