ICYMI: Senate Rules Holds FEC Nomination Hearings

On November 18th, the Senate Rules Committee met to consider the nominations of Shana M. Broussard, Sean J. Cooksey, and Allen Dickerson to the Federal Election Commission. Confirming the nominees is especially important, since the FEC lost a shortly-held quorum earlier this year when Commissioner Caroline Hunter resigned. 

Former FEC Chair and RNLA Board of Governors member Lee Goodman said of the Republican nominees, Cooksey and Dickerson:

At a time when free speech is under attack as a legal right and cultural value, the FEC will be on the front line of an intense debate. We can be confident in the fidelity to First Amendment rights Sean and Allen will bring to the work of the FEC.  They also bring a great deal of intellect to the cause.

The Federal Election Commission plays a unique role in the regulatory process:

Commissioners are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

By law, no more than three Commissioners can represent the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official Commission action. This structure was created to encourage nonpartisan decisions.

Commissioners serve in staggered six-year terms; two seats are subject to appointment every two years. The Chair of the Commission changes every year, with no member serving more than once per term.

The Commission meets in closed sessions to discuss matters that, by law, must remain confidential, and in public to formulate policy and vote on legal and administrative matters.

As Chairman Roy Blunt explained at the hearing:

While the FEC is authorized to have six commissioners, it currently only has three. Only  one—Commissioner [Trainor]—serves on an unexpired term. The other two commissioners  serve on hold over status, as their terms expired years ago—Commissioner Walther’s in 2009; and Commissioner Weintraub’s in 2007.

While a quorum allows the FEC to hold hearings, make new rules, issue advisory opinions,  conduct investigations, or approve enforcement actions, a full slate of commissioners means that the FEC is not hobbled and is able to continue its work when a single commissioner departs the agency.

The hearing in its entirety can be watched here: