Now, in the face of a mounting backlog of complaints and requests for guidance in an election year, the commission will not have enough votes to do its official work.
Hunter, who has sided with her Republican colleagues on the panel in favor of less regulation on campaign finance, informed the White House that she plans to step down July 3, according to the letter. Her departure was first reported by Politico.
“I fought against unnecessary government regulations and unfair enforcement actions; to promote transparency and consistency in the FEC’s operations; and to ensure due process in its dealings with the American people,” Hunter wrote in her resignation letter. “These battles were often hard won, and I am proud of our many accomplishments.”
Without Hunter, the six-member panel is once again left with just three commissioners, which will further complicate the agency’s ability to monitor compliance with election law in the heat of the 2020 campaign.
The White House announced its plans Friday to nominate campaign finance lawyer Allen Dickerson as FEC commissioner to replace Hunter. Dickerson is the legal director of the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit that opposes limits on political speech and advertising.
“It is a tremendous honor to be considered for the FEC. I am grateful for the president’s confidence, and hope to have the opportunity to serve the American people in this important role,” Dickerson said in a statement.
The Commission, which is ideologically split by design, is now left with one Republican, one Democrat and an independent who often caucuses with Democrats. It is unclear when the nomination will be formally sent to the Senate for confirmation.
The Republican, James E. “Trey” Trainor, was confirmed in May and sworn in June, restoring the agency’s quorum after nearly nine months without being able to do its official work. Trainor was elected chair of the panel last week.
Ellen Weintraub, the Democrat, and current vice chair Steven Walther, an independent, are both serving on the panel beyond their six-year terms. Weintraub’s term expired in 2007, and Walther’s in 2009. The seats formerly held by Democratic appointee Ann Ravel and Republican appointee Lee Goodman have remained vacant for years.
“It’s keenly disappointing for the FEC to lose its quorum just a blink of an eye after we regained it. But of course I wish Caroline well in this and all her future endeavors,” Weintraub said in a statement.
Hunter was appointed by former president George W. Bush and confirmed to the panel in June 2008. She had continued to serve on the panel even after her term expired in April 2013.
Hunter plans to join the legal team of Stand Together, a philanthropic organization funded by the billionaire industrialist Charles Koch and like-minded donors, and led by Brian Hooks, a top aide to Koch and the organization’s chief executive and chairman.
Hunter, along with Senate Republicans, has been calling for a fully new slate of commissioners at the agency.
“The FEC would benefit greatly from new faces and fresh perspectives,” Hunter wrote in her resignation letter. “It needs Commissioners who will respect the First Amendment, understand the limits of the FEC’s jurisdiction, and remember that Congress established the FEC to prevent single-party control, with every significant decision requiring bipartisan approval.”
Before joining the FEC, Hunter worked at several federal agencies and was associate counsel and deputy counsel at the Republican National Committee.
“It is deeply disheartening and concerning that the FEC will again be missing in action as the country enters the home stretch of the 2020 election. The American people need a watchdog devoted to enforcing the anti-corruption laws on the books and ensuring transparency of the billions of dollars being spent to influence their votes,” Meredith McGehee, executive director of Issue One, which supports greater regulation of money in politics, said in a statement.