J. Cameron Thurber, J.D., CFE

Counsel to the inspector general and chief investigator, U.S. Federal Election Commission


By Emily Primeaux;Photo by Eddie Arrossi

emily-primeaux-80x80   I'm a CFE

The only attorney and investigator at the U.S. Federal Election Commission's Office Of Inspector General (OIG), Cameron Thurber handles all legal affairs for the office — from negotiating agreements, to issues involving the inspector general's statutory independence and broad authority. His dream of becoming a police officer at a young age drove him down a career path that eventually led to a job he describes as his "perfect fit."

I have learned to be persistent and how to get granular with details while keeping the bigger picture in focus. My interviewing skills have greatly evolved throughout my career; I sometimes cringe when I think of some of the interviews I conducted early on compared with how I interview today.

cameron-thurber

Growing up in Boynton Beach, Florida, just a few minutes from the ocean, I spent a lot of time at the beach. I also loved to read, especially history, and I developed a love of travel. My father did a lot of international work as a part-time U.S. educational representative to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, so I got to meet a number of officials from other countries growing up. I've been to Europe five times, visited most of the states and spent a summer studying in Prague and Oxford.

I have always wanted to be a police officer. I have an innate sense of justice and doing the right thing. I used to put blue caps from nasal spray bottles on my toy cars to turn them into police cars, and my mom sewed a police uniform for me when I was 5 or 6. My interest in the study of crime and its causes never waned, leading me to obtain a Bachelor's in Criminology at Florida State University [FSU].

Some of my most interesting academic experiences were my internships, which gave me great insight into my career choices. When I was in law school — also at FSU — I spent a semester as a full-time intern with the local prosecutor's office where I got to try a few cases from jury selection to closing arguments. At the beginning of my first trial, my supervising attorney told me I was on my own; he went to sit at the back of the courtroom and left me alone at the table. It was a little nerve-wracking, but I got a conviction!

I became interested in white-collar crime in college, but at the time I imagined myself getting more into violent or organized crime investigations. Over time, I realized how many people were getting away with fraud because it wasn't taken as seriously as other types of crimes. When the malefactors were caught, the sanctions were usually comparatively light.

As a patrol officer for the Lake Worth [Florida] Police Department following college, I would sometimes be assigned to take the initial report on fraud cases. While others would rather have been chasing drug dealers down back alleys, I found fraud cases more interesting. When I heard from a friend that the Florida Division of Insurance Fraud [DIF] was hiring, I thought it would be a great opportunity to investigate complex, multijurisdictional fraud cases — and it was.

I first heard about the ACFE in the mid-90s when I was with the DIF. There are a number of CFEs in the inspector general community including auditors, investigators and attorneys — I enjoy interacting with CFEs from other disciplines. The CFE Exam Prep Course I took was a great learning experience, and I plan on taking advantage of more educational opportunities in the future.


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