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  • Press Release

Matthew Petersen to depart Federal Election Commission

August 26, 2019

WASHINGTON—Matthew S. Petersen—who joined the Federal Election Commission in 2008, served as its Chairman in 2010 and 2016, and is its current Vice Chairman—will be leaving the Commission at the end of this month.

“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served on the Commission,” said Vice Chairman Petersen. “The work of a Commissioner is challenging because it involves taking actions that impact the free speech rights of the American people. For this reason, I take satisfaction in having fulfilled my obligation to safeguard First Amendment interests while faithfully administering and enforcing the federal campaign finance laws.”

Vice Chairman Petersen’s tenure on the Commission has coincided with several court cases that significantly changed campaign finance law, the most notable being the Supreme Court’s opinion in Citizens United v. FEC. As a result, the Vice Chairman has played a large role in shaping the post-Citizens United legal framework governing Super PACs and corporate and union political speech. He also helped draft new procedures affording enhanced rights and protections for individuals and organizations involved in FEC enforcement matters, audits, and advisory opinion requests.

“I will miss Matt,” said Chair Ellen L. Weintraub. “For 11 years, he has been a gracious and steady colleague on the Commission. I have especially enjoyed working together with him this year as the FEC's Chair and Vice Chair. I wish Matt every success in the next chapter of his story.”

Commissioner Caroline C. Hunter said, “I wish everyone had the pleasure of working with Matt. He is that rare professional who combines genuine kindness and warmth with a razor-sharp intellect and a great sense of humor. His collegiality here at the Commission has become legendary, as has his determination to protect the First Amendment rights of all Americans. We will miss him.”

“I know I speak not only for myself, but for all of our staff by expressing the view that the agency is losing one of the finest Commissioners that has served on the Commission,” said Commissioner Steven T. Walther. “He has injected a steady, even-handed and positive approach to our deliberations, often delivered with a much needed good sense of humor that has often made all the difference in the outcome of our deliberations. The agency will miss him sorely, and so will I.”

Vice Chairman Petersen, who submitted his resignation to the White House today, expressed his gratitude for those with whom he has worked during his FEC service. “My friendships with fellow Commissioners, my executive assistants, and the FEC staff have been a highlight of my experience at the agency,” Petersen said. “I cannot adequately thank everyone for their professionalism, support, and decency during my time here.”

Prior to joining the Commission, Vice Chairman Petersen served in senior positions in both houses of Congress: first, as counsel to the Committee on House Administration and then as Republican chief counsel to the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration. He was extensively involved in the crafting of the Help America Vote Act of 2002—the sweeping election reform bill passed in the wake of the 2000 presidential recount— and was chief adviser to the Republican floor manager during the Senate debate on the Honest Leadership and Open Government Act of 2007, the most recent comprehensive revision of federal lobbying and government ethics laws.

Vice Chairman Petersen received his J.D. in 1999 from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was a member of the Virginia Law Review, and graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in philosophy from Brigham Young University in 1996.

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces federal campaign finance laws. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency. Established in 1975, the FEC is composed of six Commissioners who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.