The federal election committee has insufficient members to rule on campaign violations and to enforce electoral law as candidates prepare for the 2020 competition.
The agency – which serves as a watchdog for the way presidential and congress campaigns raise and spend money – will be a quorum member with the resignation of Vice President Matthew Petersen.
The Petersen exit – announced Monday and scheduled for August 31 – effectively freezes the agency.
The resignation of FEC commissioner Michale Petersen leaves the board without a quorum
Without a quorum, the FEC cannot hold board meetings, initiate audits, draw up new rules and conduct campaigns for violations
Without a quorum, the FEC cannot hold board meetings, initiate audits, draw up new rules and conduct campaigns for violations.
But chairman Ellen Weintraub claims that the office is still functioning.
& # 39; The United States election agent is still in the 2020 campaign battle, "she said in a statement about Petersen's resignation.
She argued that the FEC can still follow campaigns, investigate violations reports and make campaign financing information available.
She pointed out that the campaign watchdog group could make recommendations on any complaints and & # 39; only the committee's vote on that recommendation would be delayed & # 39 ;.
However, Weintraub also urged President Donald Trump to appoint new commissioners as soon as possible.
& # 39; The resignation of Vice-President Petersen makes it necessary for the President to quickly appoint new Commissioners and for the Senate to take rapid action to confirm them & # 39 ;, she said.
A quorum requires four commissioners and only three are left on the six-man board when Petersen leaves.
Commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Each Commissioner has a six-year term of office and, by law, may not be more than three members of the same political party – a rule that was supposed to guarantee equality, but often leads to inactivity and stalemate.
President Trump nominated James Trainor, a republican, to serve in the committee at the end of 2017, but Trainor has not been confirmed by the Senate.
Traditionally, the president also appoints a Republican and Democratic Commissioner for the Senate to vote jointly.
With the resignation of Petersen, a Republican, the White House could demand that Trainor be confirmed without a corresponding democrat.
But senator majority leader Mitch McConnell is unlikely to put a candidate forward unless that person has a counterparty to the other party.
FEC chairman Ellen Weintraub urged President Trump to appoint new commissioners as soon as possible
The FEC board – shown here in 2008 – consists of six members; the departure of Michael Petersen (second from the right) leaves it with three members and four are needed to make a quorum
FEC commissioners act as watchdogs for campaign finance violations
The Senate leaders – in this case McConnell and Democratic leader Chuck Schumer – usually also get input from the president for whom the president nominates.
With the exit from Petersen, the committee consists of a democrat, a republican and an independent.
Petersen gave no reason for his departure.
"During my service, I have faithfully fulfilled my duty to enforce the law in a way that respects freedom of expression, while also interpreting the relevant statutes and regulations fairly and giving meaningful notice to those under FEC jurisdiction" , he wrote in his resignation. letter.
& # 39; I am honored to have served the American people in this capacity and to have fulfilled the oath of eleven years ago. & # 39;
Trump nominated Petersen for a federal judge in 2018, but he withdrew after struggling to answer questions about the law during his confirmation hearing – a moment that went viral.
& # 39; I had hoped that my nearly two decades of public service could bear more weight than my two worst minutes on television, "he wrote while withdrawing his nomination. & # 39; However, I am no stranger to political reality. & # 39;
The FEC has since been ranked as one of the least popular places to work in government, according to surveys from the Office of Personnel Management
Two commissioners – Democrat Ann Ravel and Republican Lee Goodman – both stopped before their six-year term expired.
Neither has been replaced.
As for the three remaining Commissioners, they all serve after their six-year term has expired because the law allows them to continue serving.
President Weintraub, who had been appointed to the office by former President George W. Bush, served more than ten years after the end of her term of office.
Petersen, who was appointed by Bush in 2008, also served after his term.
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