Trey Trainor’s Nomination to the Federal Election Commission Highlights How the Flawed Process Continues to Cripple Election Watchdog Agency


Senate Republicans announced they will hold a confirmation hearing next week for Federal Election Commission (FEC) nominee James “Trey” Trainor.

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) President Trevor Potter, a former Republican Commissioner and Chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), released the following statement:

“Trey Trainor’s nomination as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) is yet another example of how the current nomination process continues to produce commissioners who are opposed to the mission of the agency – resulting in an explosion in secret spending, and our politics increasingly rigged in favor of special interests. For the FEC to do its job to protect the voices of all voters, not just special interests, the agency and the nomination process must be reformed.

The FEC is the only government agency solely responsible for enforcing the laws that govern the federal campaign finance system. In recent years, opponents of campaign finance laws have pushed for the nomination of commissioners who, like Trainor, have a record of being opposed to the laws the agency enforces. As a result, the FEC has routinely failed to enforce the laws designed to hold candidates and their donors accountable.

Trainor’s nomination promises to perpetuate this dysfunction. For example, upholding transparency laws is a key part of the FEC’s mission, but Trainor has questioned the value of disclosing political donors, and falsely claimed the Supreme Court endorsed secret political spending when it has done precisely the opposite.

To reduce political corruption, we need a stronger FEC to enforce campaign finance laws and hold political candidates and their donors accountable. Congress has the power to restructure the FEC and the nomination process to safeguard the agency against divides that have produced an agency that fails to do its job to enforce campaign finance laws and protect the voices of voters.”

CLC Senior Director and Chief of Staff Adav Noti, former Associate General Counsel of the FEC, stated:

“A commissioner who opposes the FEC’s mission can bring the entire agency to a halt. Trainor’s record shows that he would block the FEC’s nonpartisan investigators and attorneys from doing their jobs. Congress must restructure the FEC to prevent obstruction by individual commissioners, but until then, to place an anti-transparency activist such as Trainor on the FEC would be to place the fox firmly in charge of the chicken coop.”