“I admit when I came here [to the FEC], I was naive,” Ravel said in the phone interview Feb. 21.
In her first year at the FEC, Ravel said, she “crossed party lines” and voted with the three Republican FEC commissioners—Lee Goodman, Caroline Hunter and Matthew Petersen—to strike the corporate campaign spending rules overturned by Citizens United, as well as on nearly two dozen campaign finance enforcement cases.
“It didn’t take long to realize that wasn’t going to work,” Ravel said. She blamed her frustration on Republican colleagues, who came with “an ideological bent to ensure that the purposes of the agency were not fulfilled.”…
Some have suggested Trump could try to use Ravel’s departure from the FEC to push the agency to further deregulate money in politics. The president would be barred by law from adding another Republican commissioner to the three currently on the FEC, but he could attempt to circumvent Democrats’ recommendations to replace Ravel, such as by appointing a Libertarian Party member or a conservative independent.
Others suggested, however, Trump was unlikely to pick a fight with Democrats over an FEC appointment with so many other personnel and policy issues at stake early in his presidency.
Robert Lenhard, a former Democratic FEC commissioner now in private law practice at the firm Covington & Burling, suggested Trump should consider “the overall make-up of the FEC in selecting new commissioners” and try to reduce turmoil at the troubled agency.
“Over the last eight years, the FEC has been a turbulent place, with commissioners turning to talk radio, the blogosphere and comedy shows to take their disputes to the public,” Lenhard said in an analysis
published on his firm’s website. “Discord at the top has led to a poisonous atmosphere within the building, and the plummeting of employee satisfaction to the lowest depths of any federal agency.