FEC vice chairman resigns, leaving agency unable to vote

The vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) submitted his resignation letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpFlorida GOP lawmaker says he's 'thinking' about impeachment Democrats introduce 'THUG Act' to block funding for G-7 at Trump resort Kurdish group PKK pens open letter rebuking Trump's comparison to ISIS MORE on Monday, leaving the agency without the necessary number of commissioners to vote on proposed actions.

Matthew Petersen, a Republican who has served as a commissioner since 2008, wrote that he will formally step down on Aug. 31.

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“Throughout my service, I have faithfully discharged my duty to enforce the law in a manner that respects free speech rights, while also fairly interpreting the relevant statutes and regulations and providing meaningful notice to those subject to FEC jurisdiction,” Petersen wrote. “I am honored to have served the American people in this capacity and to have fulfilled the oath taken 11 years ago.”

A spokesperson for the FEC confirmed Petersen’s resignation, declining to comment further.

His departure leaves the agency with only three of the four members required to vote on proposed actions.

“By law, no more than three Commissioners can represent the same political party, and at least four votes are required for any official Commission action,” the FEC wrote on its website. “This structure was created to encourage nonpartisan decisions.”

The remaining commissioners are Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat; Commissioner Caroline Hunter, a Republican; and Commissioner Steven Walther, an independent. President Trump nominated Republican attorney Trey Trainor to serve as an FEC commissioner in 2017, but the Senate has not voted on his nomination.

Petersen was heavily involved in technology issues, which he highlighted in his resignation letter.

“To ensure promising new technologies designed to encourage voter outreach, small-dollar fundraising, and political association continue to flourish, I have consistently opposed unnecessarily rigid regulatory rulings,” Petersen wrote. “I've also been a staunch advocate for protecting the Internet as a vibrant medium for disseminating political speech and increasing participation in the democratic process.”

In July, Petersen joined the other FEC commissioners in voting unanimously to allow federal political campaigns to accept discounted cybersecurity services from Area 1 Security. He also voted last year in favor of allowing federal campaigns and national parties to accept a package of “enhanced online account security features” from Microsoft.

Petersen’s resignation compounds problems at the FEC.

Weintraub told The Hill earlier this year that commissioners have been at loggerheads over the agency’s purpose.

“It’s not a problem of gridlock, it’s not a problem of disagreement, it’s a problem of half the commissioners don’t agree with the mission of the agency,” Weintraub said.

Weintraub last week pushed back against President Trump’s claims that he would have won New Hampshire during the 2016 election if it wasn’t for voter fraud. In a letter to Trump, she asked for evidence of this voter fraud, telling him that his allegations risk “undermining faith” in U.S. elections.