On December 18, 2020, three new Commissioners were officially sworn in as members of the Federal Election Commission (FEC or Commission), restoring the agency’s quorum and its ability to conduct business for the first time since June of 2020. The appointees – Ms. Shana Broussard, Mr. Sean Cooksey, and Mr. Allen Dickerson – were nominated by President Trump earlier this year and confirmed by the U.S. Senate on December 9th. After months without a voting quorum, the FEC will now be able to commence its core regulatory and enforcement functions on matters of campaign finance and elections, including issuing advisory opinions, promulgating and implementing regulations, and taking formal action in enforcement matters.
For the first time in roughly three years, the panel will be at a full slate of six Commission members. The newest appointees include one Democrat and two Republicans with differing backgrounds and viewpoints on the role of the Commission and the appropriate reach of federal campaign finance and election law. Shana Broussard, the newest Democrat Commissioner, fills the seat previously held by former Commissioner Ann Ravel and holds a term that extends through April 30, 2023. Ms. Broussard served as counsel to Commissioner Steven Walther prior to her appointment and also has previous public service experience as an Attorney Advisor for the Internal Revenue Service and Assistant District Attorney in New Orleans, LA. Commissioner Cooksey – one of the new Republican additions to the Commission – joins the agency after serving as General Counsel to U.S. Senator Josh Hawley and Deputy General Counsel to U.S. Senator Ted Cruz. Prior to his government service, Mr. Cooksey worked as an attorney in private practice focusing on appellate and constitutional law. Commissioner Dickerson – the second of the new Republican members of the Commission – joins the agency after a long stint as legal director for the Institute for Free Speech and its nationwide First Amendment litigation practice. Mr. Dickerson also has background as a Judge Advocate in the US Army Reserve and as a private practice litigator.
Due to its longstanding lack of a quorum, the FEC currently faces a significant matter backlog with at least – 446 open matters before the agency and 275 staff reports awaiting action. The beginning of 2021 thus looks to be a busy one for the new Commissioners, as they attempt to clear their docket and set priorities for regulation and enforcement in the dynamic of a Biden administration. In light of this reality, the Dentons Political Law Team, which regularly represents clients before the FEC in enforcement matters, investigations, audits, advisory opinion requests, and other matters, will monitor the agency’s activities in the coming months and provide regular updates.