- Sep 21, 2012
The Campaign Legal Center’s President Trevor Potter was the featured guest on Bill Moyers & Company for an informative interview entitled, “Elections for Sale.”
More money is being spent this election cycle than ever before, much from secretive, outside groups. Some estimates show the cost of this election cycle will reach more than $5 billion, much of it in negative ads designed to depress the other side’s voter turnout. What is the role of money in a republican democracy? Is all of this spending corrupting? And are our elected officials and elections for sale with this sudden influx of money?
- Sep 20, 2012
In the October issue of The Atlantic, editor James Bennett takes a long look at campaign finance reforms and their impact on our democracy through the competing visions of Legal Center President Trevor Potter and anti-reformer James Bopp. “The New Price of American Democracy” traces the history of campaign finance reforms, the scandals that led to them, and the courts’ reactions to those reforms.
- Sep 11, 2012
Tomorrow night Legal Center President Trevor Potter and Jonathan Soros of the Roosevelt Institute will take on David Keating of the Center for Competitive Politics and Jacob Sullum of Reason Magazine at the Intelligence Squared debate, “Two Cheers for Super PACs: Money in Politics is Still Overregulated.”
In an Oxford-style debate from 6:45-8:30 p.m. at the Kauffman Center in New York, Potter & Soros will argue against the motion while Keating & Sullivan will argue for it. The debate will be moderated by ABC News correspondent and author John Donvan.
In this election cycle when more money is being spent by outside groups than ever before, it is crucial that we have an open and honest discussion about the role of money in politics. This debate is an exciting opportunity to do just that, and have an interesting, in-depth conversation about money in politics and its impact on our democracy.
- Sep 11, 2012
The somber occasion of the 11th anniversary of September 11, 2001 is a reminder that the freedoms we enjoy in this great country can never be taken for granted. In the wake of Cold War, we learned that tragic day that even with the Soviet Union gone there were still those who resented our democracy and our basic rights to free speech and to vote in free, democratic elections.
In the Amendments to our Constitution, no right has been more frequently expanded and safeguarded than the right to vote. It is a right that is at the core of our democracy and our freedom. It is not a right we should ever take for granted. It is a right we must always defend whenever there are efforts to deny or abridge it.
- Sep 5, 2012
Convention season is upon us, and the Democratic National Convention is getting underway in Charlotte this week. Given that the Republican platform unabashedly celebrates Citizens United and denounces campaign finance reform of any kind, the Democrats now have their turn to show where they stand on changing the current campaign finance system as well as voting rights.
Last week, the GOP stand was clear and, in a word, radical. The platform opposes increased disclosure, including disclosure of the identities of those bankrolling the millions of dollars in “dark money” ad buys by social welfare groups and trade associations. The GOP, not surprisingly after the debate on the DISCLOSE Act this Congress, frames its opposition in terms of constitutional rights, and declares campaign financing to be free “speech that is protected.”
- Aug 29, 2012
49 years ago on August 28, 1963, Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his infamous “I Have a Dream” speech on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. He addressed an estimated 300,000 participants of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, saying:
“When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”
49 years ago Americans were struggling to find work, were fighting against segregation and discrimination, and they were fighting for their right to vote. While we have come a long way since before the days President Lyndon Johnson signed the VotingRights Act into law, we still face many of the same challenges today.
- Jun 22, 2012
Earlier this week, Senator Mark Udall of Colorado introduced a bill to fix and modernize the Presidential Public Financing System. While clearly its short-term prospects for passage in the Senate are dim, this is a serious and timely effort that deserves support. Here's why.
At the heart of Udall's bill is a set of incentives for presidential candidates to focus on soliciting small-donor contributions from a broad base. With spending limits removed, such a system will attract candidates to participate, and the money will flow to candidates earlier. The system will also be more solvent, with better funding mechanisms and more stringent viability requirements for applicants. And the reforms in Senator Udall’s bill, by strengthening the incentives to solicit small contributions, will help to ensure that the system will continue to provide an alternative to the current practice of constantly dialing large-money donors.
- Jun 22, 2012
Campaign finance opponents are back to performing their favorite move: the “Disclosure Two-Step.” While breathtaking in its audacity, the dance is remarkably simple. First, while challenging a substantive campaign finance restriction, you assure your audience that you strongly support disclosure and argue that political transparency will ameliorate any harm caused by the elimination of the targeted restriction. Second, once the substantive restriction has been eliminated – say, by an activist conservative Supreme Court – you pivot and assert that disclosure is a threat to free speech and a trigger for the unconscionable harassment of political speakers.
Ed Conard On Tour - Ask Him About His Shell Corporation's $1 Million Contribution to Romney-Supporting Super PACJun 8, 2012
Ed Conard, former colleague and partner of Mitt Romney at Bain Capital, is currently on the TV talk show circuit promoting his new book. Last night he was onThe Daily Show with Jon Stewart. Unfortunately, Mr. Stewart did not take the opportunity to question Mr. Conard about the $1 million contribution he apparently illegally laundered though the shell company W Spann LLC to the Romney-supporting super PAC Restore Our Future last year—seemingly for the sole purpose of hiding his identity from American voters.
- May 21, 2012
Over the past few years, there has been some concern about the transparency of the counting process in American elections, especially where votes are cast and counted electronically. For instance, last spring in Waukesha County during the Wisconsin Supreme Court run-off, a last minute correction to a clerical error changed the results of the election. In March of this year, an electronic voting system mistakenly recorded two losing city council candidates in Palm Beach County, Florida as receiving the most votes.
On May 3rd the people of Greater London went to the polls to elect a new mayor and local assembly. Voters marked their votes on paper ballots. At 8 am the next morning, poll workers began counting the votes electronically at three different locations across Greater London. The process used to count ballots allowed for a high degree of transparency in the count.