Scoop: Biden taps new election money regulator
President Biden plans to nominate election law attorney Dara Lindenbaum to the Federal Election Commission, Axios has learned.
Why it matters: The nomination gives Biden an opportunity to try to shape some U.S. election rules in the wake of Congress' failure to advance sweeping election reform.
- Lindenbaum's pick comes on the 12th anniversary of the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, which struck down a ban on corporate political spending.
What's happening: If confirmed, Lindenbaum, a Democrat, will replace FEC vice-chair Steven Walther, who has served on the commission since 2006.
- Walther is an independent, but is generally seen as part of the FEC's Democratic bloc.
- As a result, Lindenbaum likely will not alter the commission's 3-3 partisan split.
- In a statement, Walther said he will continue serving until his replacement is confirmed.
Lindenbaum is a seasoned compliance attorney who works with political groups as well as nonprofits, according to her bio at the firm Sandler Reiff.
- She previously worked on the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law's voting rights project.
- Lindenbaum was also the general counsel for Stacey Abrams' 2018 gubernatorial campaign in Georgia.
What they're saying: "I have enjoyed working with my fellow Commissioners and despite numerous diverse points of view regarding the issues in front of us, it has been a pleasure to work together to find common ground whenever possible," Walther said in his statement.
The big picture: The FEC regulates federal campaign finance laws, which have received extensive attention since Citizens United and adjacent court rulings expanded the influence of high-dollar political donors.
- The commission is notoriously fractious, and its 3-3 split — along with a four-vote requirement for most enforcement actions — has resulted in deadlock on many high-profile matters.
- This week, the Senate blocked sweeping election reform legislation that would have significantly boosted the FEC's mandate and enforcement powers.
What we're watching: Walther is one of three FEC commissioners serving on expired terms, meaning Biden could continue to reshape the FEC before a potential Republican Senate takeover next year.
- Democrat Ellen Weintraub has served on the FEC for nearly 20 years, including a stint as the panel's chair.
- Republican Sean Cooksey was confirmed in 2020, but he took over a seat with a term that ran out last May.