Republican Federal Election Commission Commissioner Lee Goodmanannounced today that he will resign from the FEC on February 16 to join the political law practice at Wiley Rein. In his four years of service at the FEC, Commissioner Goodman has been a stalwart defender of the First Amendment, due process, and the rule of law, often speaking out strongly against the efforts of his Democratic colleagues to regulate political speech on the Internet and change the rules governing political activity after the fact and without following proper regulatory procedures.
Commissioner Goodman described some of the achievements of the FEC during his tenure in his resignation letter to President Trump:
We issued several advisory opinions recognizing the use of new technologies to galvanize political participation . . . . Meanwhile, we restrained unlawful efforts to regulate, and in some cases censor, American citizens’ political opinions on YouTube and Twitter, as well as the freedom of press outlets like Fox News and WCVB-TV of Boston to make editorial decisions concerning their political coverage. . . .
Most importantly, I have faithfully discharged my responsibility to balance the agency's regulatory objectives with the First Amendment rights it regulates. Since the agency’s inception, the Federal Election Commission’s unique mandate to respect the core constitutional rights of citizens acting, speaking and associating for democratic purposes has provoked criticism from those who disagree with the balance drawn. Some would even prefer the Commission ignore the First Amendment altogether. But protecting First Amendment rights is an inherent part of the Commission’s mission. Thus, I have endeavored throughout my service to preserve the Constitutional right of American citizens to speak, hear, and think freely about their democracy. It has been my duty and privilege to defend this fundamental human freedom.
Commissioner Goodman's steadfast efforts to protect Americans' rights of free speech and due process have been recognized by the election law community. RNLA leaders and members were quick to praise him when his resignation was announced:
RNLA President Elliot Berke: "Lee's tenure on the FEC was marked by grace, dignity, and professionalism. He is a good man and a good friend and I wish him nothing but the best as he returns to the private sector."
RNLA Chair John Ryder: "Lee Goodman is a fine lawyer. The FEC and the country were fortunate to have his service over the past several years. His strong defense of the First Amendment rights of all Americans will be missed on the commission."
RNLA Vice President for Election Education David Warrington: "As an FEC Commissioner and former Chairman of the agency, Lee was a champion for the First Amendment and the right of all Americans to participate in the political process. He defended those rights at a critical time when they were under assault by those inside and outside the government that sought to restrict the freedoms of speech, assembly, and the press. I am sure he will continue fighting for those same principles as he returns to the private practice of law."
RNLA Member (and Mr. Goodman's future Wiley Rein colleague) Eric Wang: "Lee was a great champion for protecting political speech on the Internet from excessive regulation by the FEC, and for keeping the agency from interfering with the news media. Lee also fought hard to ease the regulatory burden on the beleaguered national and state party committees. I look forward to working with Lee as he presses on with these battles on behalf of clients."
RNLA Executive Director Michael Thielen: "All Americans are indebted to Lee Goodman for his work to preserve First Amendment rights and his efforts to prevent the FEC Democrats from politicizing the FEC to achieve their liberal policy goals. Lee is passionate about the Constitution, the rule of law, and free speech, and he will represent his new clients at Wiley Rein well.
For some examples of the many ways in which Commissioner Goodman has defended the First Amendment and the rule of law at the FEC, readour past blog posts on him here. Thank you, Commissioner Goodman, for your faithful service to our country!