Commissioner Lee Goodman announced Wednesday he is stepping down from the Federal Election Commission, ending a tenure that saw him spar frequently with Democratic colleagues over their alleged efforts to crack down on press freedom.
Goodman wrote to President Trump saying it had been a “profound honor” to serve on the FEC and work to protect the First Amendment for all Americans.
“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.
“Some would even prefer the Commission ignore the First Amendment altogether. But protecting First Amendment rights is an inherent part of the Commission's mission,” he said.
Goodman said he was proud of rulemaking that conformed the rights of Americans to the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizens United decision, as well as restraining “unlawful efforts” to regulate and even "censor" opinions on YouTube, Twitter and some press outlets.
In 2015, he told Fox News that “threats to political speech on the Internet remain alive and well on the commission.” In 2016, he was one of the Republicans who blocked an effort by FEC Democrats to punish Fox News for criteria changes to a Republican presidential primary debate.
At the time, he described it as a move toward censorship.
The Washington Examiner, which first reported the resignation, reports that Goodman is leaving to join a law firm in his fifth year of a typically six-year appointment.
His resignation leaves the commission split 2-2 along party lines after the resignation of Democrat Ann Ravel last year.
Fox News’ Judson Berger contributed to this report.