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 which, taken together, sought to:
Public funding of federal elections originally proposed by President Roosevelt in 1907 began to take shape in 1971 when Congress set up the income tax checkoff to provide for the financing of Presidential general election campaigns and national party conventions. Amendments to the Internal Revenue Code in 1974 established the matching fund program for Presidential primary campaigns.
The FEC opened its doors in 1975 and administered the first publicly funded Presidential election in 1976.
The FEC has six voting members who serve staggered six-year terms. The Commissioners are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. No more than three Commissioners may belong to the same political party. The Commissioners elect two members each year to act as Chairman and Vice Chairman.
The Commission normally holds a public meeting each week. At this meeting, the Commissioners adopt new regulations, issue advisory opinions, approve audit reports concerning Presidential campaign committees, and take other actions to administer the campaign finance law. In addition, the Commissioners meet regularly in closed sessions to discuss pending enforcement actions, litigation and personnel matters.
Source: Federal Election Commission, http://www.fec.gov, 1998.