After a U.S. Senate vote on December 9, the FEC is back to a full slate of six commissioners with the addition of three new appointees: Shana Broussard, Sean J. Cooksey, and Allen Dickerson. Since the departure of Caroline Hunter last summer, the commissioners have lacked the required quorum to take certain actions. As Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO) noted at a December 3 hearing, “A full slate of commissioners means that the FEC is able to continue its work when a single commissioner departs the agency.” The FEC has not had six commissioners since 2017.
The new members bring the totals to three Republicans, James E. “Trey” Trainor, III, Cooksey, and Dickerson, two Democrats, Ellen L. Weintraub and Broussard, and one independent, Steven T. Walther. Only Weintraub (appointed 2002) and Walther (appointed 2008) are serving past expired terms and can be replaced by a Biden administration nominee. Since the FEC is limited to three members from each party, President Biden can only nominate two Democrats.
Broussard, the new Democrat, serves as the chair for 2021. She previously worked as counsel to Commissioner Walther for six years at the FEC and is the first African-American to be appointed. Dickerson, a new Republican, is serving as the vice chair for 2021. He previously worked as the legal director for the Institute for Free Speech. The other new member, Cooksey, was the general counsel for Senator Josh Hawley (R-MO) and is the youngest person to ever be appointed.
With the full commission restored, the regulatory agency can address the backlog of 298 active cases, 90 inactive cases, 37 active investigations, and 200 reports pending a final vote. They can also take actions that require a quorum of votes to consider including:
Issue new rules or new guidance’s on existing rules
Issue advisory opinions
Start an audit of a campaign
Open new investigation
Determine if a campaign finance law was violated by a committee under investigation
Levy fines to penalize committees found to be guilty
While the FEC offices are closed due to the pandemic, the agency remains active, and committees must still file reports according to 2021 deadlines. The commissioners recently announced new contribution limits for the 2022 cycle and published their meeting schedule for the 2021 calendar year.