The Obama administration is weighing whether to bar the Federal Election Commission from conducting a survey of the sexual orientation of federal employees, an agency official said Monday, a move that could limit the ability of some voters to gauge their support for the president and Republicans in Congress.
The FEC has been conducting a “sexual orientation survey” since the mid-1990s to determine whether a candidate or candidate’s campaign has a history of discriminating against LGBT voters, and has reported more than 1,000 findings to the White House, the official said.
In the past, the commission has been asked to hold a poll in a bid to gauge the strength of support for specific candidates.
That has led to complaints from some Democrats that the FEC is politicizing a nonpartisan agency, according to the official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations.
The official said the FEC would not issue a formal order until the agency completes the survey, which will cost about $50,000.
The president’s team has signaled that the commission will conduct the survey in response to a request from House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California, according a letter from her office to the FEC.
The commission’s preliminary report will determine whether the survey would be useful in evaluating a candidate’s record on LGBT rights, the letter said.
The report will be based on interviews with more than 300 people, the statement said.
The letter was addressed to Commissioner David Becker, the top Democrat on the FEC, who is also the head of the commission’s executive committee.
“We are pleased to see the FEC will be taking a more active role in conducting the LGBT survey,” Pelosi’s office said in a statement.
“This survey is a critical tool to gauge how LGBT Americans feel about the election and the candidates.”
A similar survey was conducted in 2016 by the Democratic Governors Association, the first such one conducted by the FEC to date.
The group found no evidence of discrimination by Republican presidential candidates.