According to a government official, President Obama engaged in a quid pro quo arrangement with the Democrat Federal Election Commissioner, Ann Ravel, on Jan. 28.
On Jan. 28, 2016, Ravel met with Obama and Stacy Koo, then chief of staff for presidential personnel at the White House, as confirmed by the White House visitor logs.
Before their meeting, Ravel apparently wanted to step down, but Obama worked out a deal where she would stay until the November election in return for two favors, according to what a senior federal government official told The Daily Caller.
Ravel allegedly told the senior government official about the meeting and deal in private. She even brought out the official pictures of her and Obama in the White House and showed them to the official.
The official told TheDC Ravel had wished to step down and move back to California before the Jan. 28 White House meeting. Obama told Ravel she could move back and do most of her work from California and that she would be supported in her effort to replace California Attorney General Kamala Harris as Attorney General if Harris were to win her Senate election.
The government official said that Ravel didn’t say that the support would necessarily come directly from President Obama but from senior Democratic officials. It was recently reported by the Washington Examiner that Ravel is a top contender to be appointed by California Gov. Jerry Brown if Harris were to be elected senator.
Ravel told TheDC that her meeting with Obama did not include discussion about her becoming California Attorney General and that she did not “move” to California, since her family has always maintained a home there. Ravel also claimed that her choice to stay on as FEC Commissioner was made before she met with Obama.
As for the White House, TheDC requested comments but they have not responded.
Hans von Spakovsky, a former FEC commissioner under President George W. Bush who now serves as a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation, told TheDC:
I believe it is improper for an FEC commissioner to be having a discussion and making deals with a sitting President, who is in essence the leader of the Democratic Party […] Given the fact that the FEC commissioner everyday is dealing with cases that directly and indirectly effect that same political party.
Von Spakosky noted that he didn’t do such a thing when he served as commissioner: “In my time as a commissioner I never had a single meeting with the president in the White House, and I would consider it wrong to do so because of the fact we handle so many matters involving his political party.”
Less than a month after her meeting with President Obama, Ravel voted to dismiss an enforcement action against Obama and the Democratic National Committee for allegedly taking foreign money at a fundraiser. Federal regulations regarding the FEC state that a “conflict of interest means a situation in which an employee’s private interest is inconsistent with the efficient and impartial conduct of his or her official duties and responsibilities.”
Ravel has been somewhat outspoken about her political beliefs during her time as FEC commissioner. In 2014, she supported a rule change to regulate online political speech, the result of which another FEC commissioner said could target sites like the Drudge Report. Less than two months after her meeting with Obama, Ravel released a statementcalling for new FEC rules to address challenges brought by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision.
Why was it so important for Ravel to stick around? Well, if she had vacated her position, that would have left one less Democrat in the commission and the appointment of a new commissioner could have been delayed by the Senate.