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Senate panel considers slate of three nominees to the FEC

If confirmed, the trio would restore a full bench to the hobbled agency

Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt said at a hearing Wednesday that he wants to move to confirm three nominees to the Federal Election Commission before the year ends.
Senate Rules and Administration Chairman Roy Blunt said at a hearing Wednesday that he wants to move to confirm three nominees to the Federal Election Commission before the year ends. (Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Roy Blunt, chairman of the Senate Rules and Administration Committee, said Wednesday he wants to move this year to confirm three nominees to the Federal Election Commission, an agency that spent nearly all the 2020 campaign season with too many vacancies to even convene meetings.

The Rules panel held a hearing Wednesday with a bipartisan trio of nominees who, if confirmed, would restore the beleaguered agency to its full slate of six commissioners. Shana M. Broussard, who is the Democrats’ pick and currently serves as counsel to FEC Commissioner Steven Walther, would be the agency’s first Black commissioner in its 45 years.  

“The opportunity to lead the commission rarely comes to those already working within the agency,” Broussard told the Senate panel during the confirmation hearing. She added that having been on the staff for more than a decade made her “uniquely prepared” for the position. “If confirmed, I will be the first African American to serve on the commission. This historic fact should not be ignored.”

President Donald Trump formally nominated her in late October, along with a Republican pick: Sean J. Cooksey, who serves as general counsel to Sen. Josh Hawley, a Missouri Republican. The third nominee, whom the administration had previously picked, is Allen Dickerson, legal director of the Institute for Free Speech, which favors deregulation of campaign finance. 

The FEC briefly had four commissioners, enough for a quorum to take official action, back in May with the confirmation of GOP lawyer James “Trey” Trainor III. But shortly after he took his post, Caroline Hunter headed for the exit in July.

The other two current commissioners, both picks of Democrats though Walther considers himself an independent, are on expired terms. Ellen L. Weintraub has been at the commission since 2002. Blunt said during the hearing Wednesday that he would “love to have” nominees to replace them and said he would move quickly to confirm. 

Broussard noted the commission’s long backlog of 380 cases that the agency could move on for possible enforcement actions. 

Though the FEC’s main job is to enforce federal campaign finance laws, some of the panel’s Democrats asked the nominees whether they had seen evidence, as Trump and his legal team have alleged, that significant voting fraud had occurred in the 2020 presidential election.

Cooksey, a Republican, said that he had no personal knowledge of “widespread voter fraud.”

The committee has not yet scheduled a vote on the three nominations.

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