Shana Broussard just became the first Black member of the Federal Election Commission — and she’s now in charge

Shana Broussard testify

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No matter that Shana Broussard wasn’t certain what lawyers did, say nothing of how to spell the word. 

Broussard, then 4 years old, declared while doodling in a family memory book that she’d become one — the kind who helped people like her Air Force sergeant father and English teacher mother. 

Become a lawyer she would. And this month, in the most notable step of her public legal service career, Broussard, a Democrat, became the first Black commissioner in the Federal Election Commission’s 45-year history. 

Among her new commission colleagues’ first acts: voting Broussard commission chair for 2021.

Symbolically, Broussard told Insider that her appointment provides “encouragement that this is not an exclusive process for only some, but that the electoral process is open for all.” 

“The agency that promotes transparency should be led by people that represent and make themselves available to the public that they serve,” she added.

Practically, Broussard aims to bring composure, compromise, and common purpose to the often fractious, six-member commission, which is empowered to enforce and regulate the nation’s campaign finance laws but often deadlocks when faced with critical decisions.

Broussard’s most urgent task: helping a newly reconstituted FEC emerge from a brutal 15 months in political purgatory. 

Save for a few weeks in June and July, the independent, bipartisan body charged with policing federal campaign money didn’t have enough commissioners to conduct high-level business. It couldn’t complete investigations, issue fines, or pass new rules — all while federal political committees pumped an estimated $14 billion into Election 2020, obliterating past spending totals.

A backlog of about 400 enforcement cases now awaits Broussard and her colleagues. On January 14, Broussard will preside over the agency’s first public meeting in seven months.

Bring it on, she said.

“I am a fair person. I’m a hardworking person. I’m committed to the mission,” Broussard said. “And I’m committed to making sure that I do the best that I can and seek guidance when I need it.”

Those who know Broussard say they don’t dare doubt her.

‘Something special’

Born on Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, Broussard’s military family lived in several states, uprooting and moving whenever duty called them.

All the while, as the middle sister of two brothers, Broussard developed an acute sense of family justice.

“If you were trying to get away with something, you made sure you didn’t do it around her,” joked Juan Broussard, an architect near Dallas and Broussard’s older brother. “So, yeah, while she kept you on your toes, we also knew our sister was something special.”

Broussard’s father retired in the late 1980s as a master sergeant and moved the family to Louisiana the summer before her high school senior year. 

She took to her new state and enrolled at Dillard University, an historically Black college in New Orleans, where in 1991 she graduated with a political science degree. She then trekked 80 miles west to Southern University Law Center in Baton Rouge to chase her childhood dream of attorneydom, ultimately earning a juris doctorate with honors.

There at Southern University, Broussard …read more

Source:: Business Insider


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