In a 49-43 vote along partisan lines, the Senate confirmed Texas Attorney Trey Trainor to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) today.
The approval of his nomination establishes a quorum in the FEC, allowing its commissioners to hold meetings, conduct and approve audits, and carry out investigations.
Four members are needed for a quorum, but the FEC has only had three since the beginning of September 2019 — making it the longest period in the commission’s history that the commission has operated without a quorum.
The U.S. Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held Trainor’s nomination hearing in March and then advanced his nomination in May with a party-line vote, though only one Democrat was present to voice opposition.
Trainor has represented a number of conservative advocacy groups in Texas and Republican officials, including Empower Texans, Texas Right to Life, the Texas Republican Party, the Texas Secretary of State, and President Trump’s campaign.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) strongly supported Trainor’s nomination.
“Throughout his career, Trey has developed immense experience in the issues that he will face as a Federal Election Commissioner. He served as General Counsel to the Texas Office of the Secretary of State—the chief elections officer for the State of Texas—where he advised the Secretary on cutting-edge elections issues,” said Cruz in a press release before Trainor’s nomination hearing.
Cruz added that he has “been consistently impressed with his commitment to the rule of law and his depth of knowledge of election law.”
While his nomination was supported by Republicans, many Democrats were vocal in their opposition, wanting to at least see a Democratic nomination be processed through the Senate simultaneously.
Of the three other commissioners of the FEC, one is a Republican, one is a Democrat, and one is an Independent whose executive assistant Democratic senators want to appoint to the FEC.
Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), the ranking member of the Senate Rules Committee, said at the hearing that “Mr. Trainor has consistently worked to dismantle the rules that keep corruption out of our political system.”
Trainor’s nomination faced similar criticism from Issue One, a group advocating campaign finance reform and opposition to “dark money.”
In his prepared remarks for the March hearing, Trainor said that if the Senate confirms his nomination, he would “approach [his] work at the FEC in an objective and methodical manner” and noted that “the touchstone for all regulation of political speech is the First Amendment.”
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Daniel Friend is a reporter for The Texan. He participated in a Great Books program at Azusa Pacific University and graduated in 2019 with a degree in Political Science. He has studied C.S. Lewis’s science fiction trilogy and in his spare time you might find him writing his own novel partly inspired by the series.