The vice chairman of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) submitted his resignation letter to President Trump on Monday, leaving the agency one member short of the number needed to vote on proposed actions.
Matthew Petersen, a Republican who has served as a commissioner since 2008, said in his letter that he'd leave his position on Saturday.
“I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to have served on the commission,” said his letter, which was posted on the FEC website. “The work of a commissioner is challenging because it involves taking actions that impact the free speech rights of the American people.”
He added, “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.”
Petersen served as FEC chairman twice – in 2010 and 2016 – before he took the position of vice chairman.
“My friendships with fellow commissioners, my executive assistants, and the FEC staff have been a highlight of my experience at the agency,” Petersen wrote. “I cannot adequately thank everyone for their professionalism, support and decency during my time here.”
Petersen’s departure hamstrings FEC votes on any new actions, as four members have been required in making decisions. FEC guidelines also state that no more than three commissioners can be of the same political party, with the hope that such guidelines would facilitate nonpartisan decisions.
The remaining commissioners are Chairwoman Ellen Weintraub, a Democrat; Caroline Hunter, a Republican; and Steven Walther, an independent. President Trump nominated Republican attorney Trey Trainor in 2017 to fill a commissioner slot, but the Senate has not yet voted on his nomination.
The resignation of Petersen complicates an already-difficult situation at the FEC as the commissioners have battled over its overall mission and Trump’s persistent claims of voter fraud.
“It’s not a problem of gridlock, it’s not a problem of disagreement, it’s a problem of half the commissioners don’t agree with the mission of the agency,” Weintraub told The Hill earlier this year.