Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly of the Federal Election Commission (“FEC”) announced to Commission staff today that she will be leaving the agency effective February 1.

What does this mean for business before the FEC?  As a practical matter, it is unlikely to have a significant impact on the FEC’s day-to-day business.  It is not uncommon for the FEC to go through periods with only five Commissioners.  Former Commissioner Michael Toner resigned from the FEC in March of 2007 and was not replaced that year.  Similarly, former Commissioner Bradley Smith resigned in August 2005, and was not replaced until 2006.  In both instances, the FEC continued to function, much as it had before.

In part this is because the FEC does not operate by majority vote.  Almost all actions by the FEC require the vote of four Commissioners.  Even though there will be more Republican-allied Commissioners after February 1, all agency actions will still require a bipartisan consensus among the Commissioners.