- FEC has jurisdiction over campaign finance for the House, Senate, Presidency and Vice Presidency
- Since the resignation of Caroline Hunter, the commission has been at a standstill
- President Trump’s nomination of Allen Dickerson to be a member was finally sent to the Senate
The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency responsible for administering and enforcing federal campaign finance law for U.S. federal elections. It was created through the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972, passed by President Richard Nixon. This push was meant to regulate political campaign spending and fundraising, while disclosing requirements for federal candidates, political parties, and political action committees. The FEC holds jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, Senate, Presidency and the Vice Presidency. The six seat commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Currently, the commission is unable to perform at its full capacity without its minimum of four commissioners to meet quorum to pass votes. This means that since the resignation of Caroline C. Hunter on July 3, the commission has been at a standstill, unable to legally enforce campaign finance laws, offer formal advice, render an advisory opinion, create new rules, complete investigations, or approve audits. The most recent confirmed commissioner, as of May, is James E. “Trey” Trainor III. He became chair after his nomination process began in 2017, and it took three tries to get commissioner confirmation.
This week, President Donald Trump’s nomination of Allen Dickerson to be a member was sent to the Senate. Dickerson is currently the Legal Director at the Institute for Free Speech (IFS) and reports to former FEC Commissioner, Bradley A. Smith, founder and chairman of IFS. This nomination pending in the Senate is especially crucial to meeting quorum with the upcoming elections in November, as several pending cases and investigations have been on pause. As of August, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the FEC has resumed its Phase 1 operations, yet the commission requires an affirmative vote by four commissioners, and is therefore unable to answer such requests at this time.