Lee E. Goodman, who led a battle to stop Democrats from imposing political regulations on the Internet and news sites like the Drudge Report and other media, is stepping down from the Federal Election Commission.
Goodman, an elections lawyer and adviser, plans to leave Feb. 16. He will join the political law group of Wiley Rein in Washington.
“Serving the American people as a commissioner of the Federal Election Commission has been a profound honor,” he said in a resignation letter to President Trump.
For years, Goodman has been a tireless voice for First Amendment rights on the internet. He has blocked several flagrant and subtle efforts by FEC Democrats to impose regulations on conservative media, the internet, and major websites like Fox, the Drudge Report, Facebook, and Twitter.
“Since the agency’s inception, the Federal Election Commission’s unique mandate to respect the core constitutional rights of citizens acting, speaking and associating for democratic purposes has provoked criticism from those who disagree with the balance drawn,” he wrote Trump.
“But protecting First Amendment rights is an inherent part of the Commission’s mission. Thus, I have endeavored throughout my service to preserve the Constitutional right of American citizens to speak, hear, and think freely about their democracy. It has been my duty and privilege to defend this fundamental human freedom,” penned Goodman.
He first warned of Democratic attacks on conservative voices during a 2014 interview with Secrets.
“I think that there are impulses in the government every day to second guess and look into the editorial decisions of conservative publishers,” said Goodman, who was chairman of the FEC at the time.
“The right has begun to break the left’s media monopoly, particularly through new media outlets like the internet, and I sense that some on the left are starting to rethink the breadth of the media exemption and internet communications,” he added.
During his nearly five years, he revised FEC regulations to conform them to the Citizens United and McCutcheon court decisions, efforts that were stalled when he joined the agency. He also spearheaded the agency’s switch to new technologies which recently resulted in a better and easier to use website.
A key driving force during his term was limiting regulation of new technology that has come to dominate politics.
“We restrained unlawful efforts to regulate, and in some cases censor, American citizens’ political opinions on YouTube and Twitter, as well as the freedom of press outlets like Fox News and WCVB-TV of Boston to make editorial decisions concerning their political coverage,” he wrote.
Goodman is in his fifth year of what is typically a six-year appointment. He will be the second commissioner to retire in the last year, joining Democrat Ann Ravel. It will leave the commission split between two Republicans and two Democrats.
Goodman was chair of the commission in 2014 and vice chairman in 2013. He advised four presidential campaigns from 2007 to 2012 and was a policy advisor to former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore. And notably, he worked with former Republican National Committee Chairman Lee Atwater for then-Vice President George H.W. Bush in the 1980s.
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at email@example.com