Chair of the Federal Election Commission: Who Is Ellen Weintraub?

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Commissioner Ellen L. Weintraub was elected chair of the Federal Election Commission (FEC) for 2013 on December 20, 2012, having previously served as chair in 2003. She was given a recess appointment to the Commission by President George W. Bush on December 6, 2002, and took office on December 9, 2002. She was re-nominated on January 9, 2003, and confirmed by unanimous consent of the United States Senate on March 18, 2003. Weintraub succeeds Caroline Hunter, a Republican, under the party-alternating chairmanship system of the FEC.


Weintraub has at times been blunt about the ineffectiveness of the FEC, which is supposed to oversee campaign finance laws, but has been torn by partisan politics. “The notion that we are a fierce investigative agency that people are quaking in their boots about is probably not the case,” she said in May 2011. “Back in ’06 and ’07, they said we were ‘feckless’ and ‘toothless,’ I am not sure what the adjective would be today.”


Born in June 1957 in New York, the daughter of Edward, who served as regional information director for the U.S. Department of Labor in New York, and Judith Weintraub, Ellen Weintraub earned a B.A. in British Studies at Yale in 1978 and a J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1984. She is a member of the New York and District of Columbia bars.


After graduating law school, Weintraub went into private practice as a litigation associate at the New York firm of Cahill Gordon & Reindel, where she worked from 1984 to 1990. She got her first taste of public service and of election law by joining the House Ethics Committee, serving as counsel from 1990 to 1996. Weintraub’s work focused on implementing the Ethics Reform Act of 1989, editing the House Ethics Manual, and contributing to the Senate Ethics Manual.


From 1996 to 2002 Weintraub was “of counsel” in the Political Law Group at the Washington, DC, office of the law firm of Perkins Coie, where she counseled clients on campaign finance and election laws, political ethics, and lobbying regulation. During the election contest arising out of the 1996 election of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-Louisiana), Weintraub served on the legal team advising the Senate Rules Committee.


Weintraub is married to William G. Dauster, currently Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nevada), with whom she has three children.

-Matt Bewig


Official Biography


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