Trump stuffed the Federal Election Commission with anti-regulation attorneys before he left office, but President Joe Biden could nominate at least two commissioners to the FEC, which spent much of the Presidential election year of 2020 not even able to meet because it didn't have enough commissioners.
The terms of Sean Cooksey, previously the general counsel for Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Mo.), and Steven Walther, an independent appointed by President George W. Bush, expire April 30. Presidents typically nominate commissioners in pairs, one Democrat and one Republican.
The six-person independent commission set up after Watergate is supposed to investigate allegations of illegal campaign spending and issue advisory opinions. Republicans have used the tradition of how presidents nominate commissioners to stuff their half of the commission seats with people who pander to dark money and oppose strict regulation.
"These people are carefully chosen by Mitch McConnell to make sure that not much happens," said Craig Holman of Public Citizen.
Trump nominated the three Republicans who are on the commission:
Trey Trainor was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in May. Trainor represented Trump's 2016 campaign, called Biden's election in 2020 "illegitimate" and said he believed voter fraud took place.
Trainor supported right-wing attorney Sidney Powell who is now being sued for defamation by Dominion Voting Systems over her comments about the 2020 election: "I've never known fellow TX lawyer @SidneyPowell1 to be anything but forthright and honest in everything she's ever taken on," Trainor tweeted in November. "If she says there is rampant voter fraud in #Election2020, I believe her."
Allen Dickerson was confirmed by the Senate in December. Dickerson previously was the legal director for the Institute for Free Speech, a nonprofit involved in a lawsuit against the FEC that allowed super PACs that can spend an unlimited amount of money.
Dickerson didn't work at the institute when that case was decided, but he was at the nonprofit, then known as the Center for Competitive Politics when it sued then-California Attorney General Kamala Harris over a rule requiring nonprofits raising money in California to disclose donors.
Sean Cooksey was also confirmed in December. He fills the seat previously held by Lee Goodman, a Republican appointed by President Barack Obama. Cooksey also worked as deputy general counsel for Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas).
The divided FEC has meant that a third of the commission's votes in 2019 on proposed enforcement were split with no decision made, up from less than 1% of the votes in 2003 when George W. Bush was president. Actions such as making rules, levying major fines or issuing advisory opinions require at least four "yes" votes.
The commission didn't have a quorum in late 2019 and much of 2020, meaning it couldn't meet and accumulated a backlog of more than 400 cases.
The chair of the FEC is Shana Broussard, a Democrat. She started working for the commission n 2008 in enforcement and became the attorney for Walther.
H.R. 1, the For the People Act, would shrink the commission to five members so that one party couldn't effectively neuter the commission. The House passed the bill in March.