• A New Call to Action One Year After Shelby v. Holder

    Jun 25, 2014
    One year ago today—June 25, 2013—the U.S. Supreme Court gutted a key provision of the Voting Rights Act (VRA) in the landmark decision Shelby County v. Holder.
    A narrow 5-4 majority rendered the Act's coverage formula unconstitutional. The formula had required certain states and jurisdictions with a history of racial discrimination in voting practices to receive preclearance from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) or a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia before implementing new election practices or procedures. Nine states, primarily in the Deep South, and a handful of jurisdictions from Manhattan, New York to Monterey, California were covered under the formula. Since the decision inShelby, several previously covered jurisdictions have swiftly enacted or administered discriminatory voting changes that would not have been possible before the ruling.

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  • The Distorted Vision of Partisan Eyes

    Jun 11, 2014

    To many across the nation, politics is a team sport. To these die-hard fans, every call against their team is because of a biased ref or ump and every opponent is an evil low life steroid-taking fraud who skipped the first two races of the Triple Crown. This team sport mentality helps explain the passion, knee-jerk reactions and lack of rational thought that frames many of our political debates. Having spent close to 38 years in Washington working for non-partisan institutions and organizations, and having represented conservative, progressive, Republican and Democratic clients, I also know that there are many who believe that ensuring the integrity of the game is the best form of team loyalty and strive to ensure the game is played fairly and by the rules. Despite what some of those who disagree with our positions occasionally claim, the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is one such organization.

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  • Trevor Potter Talks Money in Politics with Rep. Walter Jones on Washington Watch

    Jun 3, 2014

    Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter appears on “Washington Watch” this month as the guest of Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC).  The two Republicans discussed the role of money in politics in the wake of a string of controversial U.S. Supreme Court decisions overturning longstanding Court precedent and explored potential avenues of reform to the current campaign finance system.

    The show will air throughout June on stations across Rep. Jones’ Third Congressional District in North Carolina.

    To view June’s Washington Watch, click here.

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  • A Judge Speaks the Truth to the Supreme Court; A Tale of Two Views of Democracy

    Apr 28, 2014
    The appearance of influence or access, furthermore, will not cause the electorate to lose faith in our democracy.
    - Justice Anthony Kennedy, in Citizens United v. FEC (April 2, 2014).
    *   *   *
    Indeed, today’s reality is that the voices of “we the people” are too often drowned out by the few who have great resources. ... Ordinary citizens recognize this; they know what is going on; they know they are not being included. It breeds cynicism and distrust.
    -United States District Court Judge Paul A. Crotty, in New York Progress and Protection PAC v. Walsh (April 24, 2014).

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  • Does the Arab Spring Wither on the Vine?

    Apr 21, 2014
    I am just back from a week-long conference hosted in Morocco focused on skills building and advocacy for Legacy International’s Legislative Fellows from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia – countries which have had their own version of the “Arab Spring.”  While the hurdles facing fledgling democracies in North Africa were also evident in Morocco’s capital of Rabat, those obstacles to development came into sharper focus as the delegation ventured into Fez, a good sized city in the country’s interior.

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  • Report from Rabat

    Apr 16, 2014

    I find myself in Morocco meeting with young activists from Egypt, Libya and Tunisia to provide training and mentoring in advocacy and democracy building in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. Sponsored by Legacy International with a grant from the Department of State, the 5-day conference is focused on skills building, cultural exchange and brainstorming. It has been eye-opening.

    Can you imagine undertaking the task of educating Libyan girls in camps for displaced persons when they have no money and no documents?  Fighting corruption in Tunisia?  Assessing the psychological impact of the political changes on Egypt's children?  Increasing youth engagement in politics and improving the job prospects of high school graduates who are not going to college?  Promoting health education in rural areas and slums in Morocco and Egypt?

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  • More Dysfunction at the FEC

    Apr 15, 2014
    The Republican and Democratic commissioners at the Federal Election Commission (FEC) are locked in another public dispute.  While this has become depressingly routine, the agency’s inability to function at almost any level is no small matter.

    The FEC is charged with enforcing our federal campaign finance laws but, in case you haven’t noticed, those laws are not being enforced.  Of course, the Supreme Court is doing its part to undermine the law in cases such as Citizens United v. FECand McCutcheon v. FEC by striking down key provisions that it had previously found constitutional.

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  • New York Times LTE: Campaign Finance and the Social Contract

    Apr 10, 2014
    There is a deep connection between the old news about the rapidly growing income and wealth gap in this country and the Supreme Court¹s decision (McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission) on Wednesday, April 2 ruling unconstitutional the longstanding (forty years) and regularly reaffirmed aggregate limits on how much an individual can give to all federal candidates and their parties in any election cycle.

    Until that decision, an individual could not get more than approximately $124,000 into the hands of federal candidates and their parties.  Now – notwithstanding the so-called base limits that limit how much an individual can contribute directly to any one candidate  ($2,600) or party committee ($10,000 or $32,400, depending on the type of committee)—that  sum is $3.6 million, and  with artfully selected PACs (political action committees) potentially limitless.  That’s one line.

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  • President Obama & Eric Cantor Deserve Each Other

    Apr 3, 2014
    This is a day when President Obama and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) deserve each other – and I don’t mean that in a good way.

    Last night, Roll Call reported that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) will be going to the White House this afternoon to attend the bill signing ceremony for the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act.  Even after many years in Washington, I find this particular Kabuki theater a bit too much to stomach.  I especially feel for the parents of Gabriella Miller who are likely unaware how they are being used in this cynical game.

    To recap, Congress recently passed a bill that takes away public financing from the quadrennial national party conventions and supposedly uses that $12 million for pediatric cancer research.   If it actually did this, I wouldn’t be writing this piece.  After all, sick kids should always get priority over greedy politicians?

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  • Video: Do Ethics Count?

    Apr 1, 2014

    People who want "a little bit of corruption" to break gridlock in Washington or their local statehouse simply do not understand what makes our democracy great.

    “They almost wax nostalgic about the elements of machine politics that gets things done, but romanticizing machine politics is a bridge too far. Praise for just a little bit of corruption is a cynic's way out.  Good government standards are what differentiate the United States and other Western democracies from banana republics.”

    The Campaign Legal Center's Meredith McGehee takes a look at ethics via a video guest commentary today on Politix.

    To watch the video, click here.

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