A Look at the FEC

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The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is tasked with enforcement and oversight of the nation's campaign finance laws, including legislated limits on corporate donations. The agency has six members, three Republicans and three Democrats. Each commissioner is appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for a six-year term. The terms are staggered so that two appointments are made every two years. However, President Obama has yet to appoint any commissioner to the FEC, and three of the six members--Donald McGahn, Steven Walther and Ellen Weintraub--are serving expired terms. President Bush appointed all of the current members of the FEC.

  • Nevada lawyer Steven T. Walther became chairman of the FEC in January 2009. Prior to his appointment, Walther was in private practice at a firm he founded. He was also a member of the American Law Institute and active in the legal research section of the American Bar Association.
  • Vice Chair Cynthia L. Bauerly has advised Democratic Senators Charles Schumer of New York and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota on legislative and policy issues. Bauerly previously practiced law at Fredrikson & Byron in Minneapolis and Jones Day in Washington, D.C.
  • Republican Commissioner Donald McGahn was formerly general counsel to the National Republican Congressional Committee and counsel for the Illinois Republican Party. He previously practiced law at Patton Boggs.
  • Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter was previously vice chair of the U.S. Election Assistance Commission, deputy director of President Bush's Office of Public Liaison and executive officer of the Department of Homeland Security's Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services. Hunter also served as counsel to the RNC.
  • FEC Commissioner Matthew S. Petersen was Republican chief counsel to the U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration and served as counsel to the Congressional Committee on House Administration, where he helped craft the Help America Vote Act of 2002 ("HAVA"). Petersen was formerly a partner at Wiley Rein.
  • Commissioner Ellen Weintraub was a recess appointment to the FEC in 2002. Her term expired in April 2007. Prior to her appointment, she was of counsel to Perkins Coie and a member of its political law group and counsel to the House ethics committee.

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