Trump finally decides to do something about election commission after it's too late


He nominated two Federal Election Commissioners on Friday, too late to oversee the 2020 elections.

Donald Trump announced two nominees to vacant seats on the Federal Election Commission this week, after leaving the election watchdog with no quorum for the 2020 election cycle.

After declaring his intent to nominate the two on Wednesday, Trump officially sent their names to the currently adjourned Senate on Friday.

The six-member board is tasked with "administering and enforcing the federal campaign finance law" and is made up of no more than three members of either major political party.

This has often meant partisan gridlock and 3-3 ties, blocking regulatory decisions. The commissioners once even deadlocked on whether to serve bagels or donuts at the agency's 40th anniversary celebration.

But for much of the past two years, the commission has lacked a quorum to conduct even much of its noncontroversial business.

As commissioners resigned their seats long after their terms expired, Trump did not quickly nominate replacements, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did little to prioritize confirmation votes for the people he did pick. A nominee for one vacant seat has been awaiting a vote since June.

Trump could have named people to these and most of the other seats at any time, but instead waited until the Senate adjourned to after the Nov. 3 election. This has meant even less oversight than usual for the most expensive election in U.S. history.

Erin Chlopak, director for campaign finance strategy at the nonpartisan Campaign Legal Center, said last month that the dearth of commissioners at the FEC was a huge problem.

"[T]he agency whose sole responsibility to investigate and enforce violations of our nation's campaign finance laws cannot do its job," she told the American Independent Foundation. "The FEC's lack of quorum for much of the 2020 election cycle and especially in the months and now weeks leading up to a presidential election means that more serious violations of law will go uninvestigated and unenforced."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.