Donald F. McGahn, the controversial former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, resigned from the panel on Tuesday to return to private law practice, ending what campaign-finance reform advocates and political practitioners called one of the most consequential tenures in the commission’s 38-year history. McGahn, a Republican who had served on the FEC since 2008, clashed frequently with Democrats as he helped push a conservative interpretation of campaign-finance laws and persistent skepticism about government oversight of political campaigns. McGahn will leave to become a partner at Patton Boggs, which has one of Washington’s leading election law practices.
In an interview, McGahn cited his work on FEC procedures as his most enduring legacy. McGahn pushed to allow campaigns and party committees to present their sides of cases in open session rather than behind closed doors.
“The procedures are completely different. It’s much more of a fair place, an honest place,” McGahn said. “There’s much more of an opportunity to do legal briefing and real arguing.”
McGahn’s term had expired in 2009, but he was not replaced until this year amid a state of general gridlock at the agency.