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Mission and history

The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is the independent regulatory agency charged with administering and enforcing the federal campaign finance law. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, Senate, Presidency and the Vice Presidency.

Federal campaign finance law covers three broad subjects:

Mission

To protect the integrity of the federal campaign finance process by providing transparency and fairly enforcing and administering federal campaign finance laws.

History

As early as 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt recognized the need for campaign finance reform and called for legislation to ban corporate contributions for political purposes. In response, Congress enacted several statutes between 1907 and 1966.

In 1971, Congress consolidated its earlier reform efforts in the Federal Election Campaign Act, instituting more stringent disclosure requirements for federal candidates, political parties and political action committees (PACs). Still, without a central administrative authority, the campaign finance laws were difficult to enforce.

Following reports of serious financial abuses in the 1972 presidential campaign, Congress amended the Federal Election Campaign Act in 1974 to set limits on contributions by individuals, political parties and PACs. The 1974 amendments also established an independent agency, the FEC. The FEC opened its doors in 1975.

Timeline of events

To mark the agency's 40th anniversary, the Commission created an interactive timeline that highlights some of the key developments in the agency's history.