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Biden nominates former Stacey Abrams lawyer for campaign finance watchdog

POLITICO logo POLITICO 1/21/2022 By Zach Montellaro
The Federal Election Commission is pictured. © John Shinkle/POLITICO The Federal Election Commission is pictured.

President Joe Biden is nominating a new commissioner to the Federal Election Commission, the nation's chief campaign finance watchdog.

The White House announced on Friday that Biden was putting forward Dara Lindenbaum, a campaign finance attorney, to join the six-member board governing the agency, which is charged with enforcing campaign finance laws and issuing opinions guiding federal officeseekers.

Lindenbaum, according to her bio on her law firm's website, was general counsel to Stacey Abrams' 2018 Georgia gubernatorial run and deputy general counsel for former Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley's 2016 presidential bid.


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If confirmed, she would replace longtime commissioner Steven Walther, who said in a statement that he would remain on the board until his replacement is confirmed by the Senate. Axios first reported of Lindenbaum's nomination.

About the agency: The agency is notorious for routinely deadlocking on major decisions. Broadly, the Democratic bloc of commissioners support stricter regulation of campaign finances and disclosures, while Republican commissioners usually favor lessening them, often in the name of protecting freedom of speech.

In more recent history, it is known for not being able to enforce campaign finance laws at all. Twice during former President Donald Trump's presidency, the agency lacked a quorum of at least four commissioners, leaving it unable to issue any final guidance or enforce penalties.

By law, there can be no more than three members of the same political party on the commission. While Walther is an independent, he regularly sided with Democratic commissioners in the agency. Should Lindenbaum be confirmed, she would be unlikely to dramatically alter the balance of the board.

Three of the agency's six commissioners are also currently serving on expired terms: Walther, Democratic commissioner Ellen Weintraub and Republican commissioner Sean Cooksey. Commissioners are allowed to serve after their terms end — until a replacement is confirmed.

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