(photo courtesy of Colbert Report)
Campaign Legal Center President (and attorney at the law firm Caplin & Drysdale) Trevor Potter played an important role in the last election cycle: that of "personal lawyer" to comedian Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report. Mr. Colbert took on the absurdities of some of current campaign finance law and turned them into a running parody on his show this election cycle, with the help of Trevor. To watch video highlights of Trevor Potter's appearances on The Colbert Report, click here.
- Mar 13, 2014
The Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision so radically changed the rules of our country’s political process that updating the 50-year-old IRS regulations governing 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations has jumped from long overdue to critically important. The announcement that the IRS would finally launch a rule-making to update those regulations is welcome news. While the initial IRS proposal clearly needs work, the Campaign Legal Center is actively participating in the regulatory process to significantly improve it. But the efforts in the U.S. House of Representatives, led by Ways and Means Chairman David Camp, R-Mich., are way off base when they attempt to paint the process as a partisan witch hunt.
FEC: FEC Agrees with Campaign Legal Center that Former Rep. Towns Violated Ban on Personal Use of Campaign FundsMar 13, 2014
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) has reached a conciliation agreement with the campaign committee of former Rep. Edolphus Towns (D-NY) concerning allegations that he illegally converted campaign funds to personal use based on a complaint filed by the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) in 2012. As part of the agreement the campaign committee will pay a $5,000 fine and Mr. Towns, who retired in 2013, will reimburse the committee. Media reports at the time the complaint was filed had indicated that the former Congressman’s wife, Gwen Towns, regularly utilized a vehicle leased by the campaign for a variety of noncampaign-related personal uses, including her daily commute to and from her place of employment.
As we await a decision from the Supreme Court in the McCutcheon v. FEC money in politics case, the Justices themselves heard from a protester who rose in the courtroom to proclaim that “money is not speech, corporations are not people” and to urge the Court to “overturn Citizens United.”
That this breach was so surprising reminds us how cut-off the Supreme Court is from the life of the country. That separation also comes through in what the Justices had to say in the McCutcheon oral argument. Their comments illustrate flashpoints that underlie the Court’s money in politics cases and shed light on the fundamental fissures we may see in their decision.
1. Does the Court understand the Real World?
- Mar 6, 2014
In a March 5 entry in his “More Soft Money, Hard Law” blog, Bob Bauer distorted and then criticized the Campaign Legal Center’s (CLC) position in the ongoing IRS rulemaking regarding “candidate-related political activity” by tax-exempt organizations. CLC filed its IRS comments jointly with Democracy 21, Public Citizen, and Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD). While CLC respects the right of anyone to criticize our legal and policy positions, such criticism should be based on our actual views, not on straw man distortions of our positions.
- Mar 5, 2014
Any day now, the Supreme Court will decide whether to throw out the overall limits on how much any one person can contribute to federal candidates, PACs, and political parties. This decision could have a big impact on business executives and they might not be too happy about it.
To watch the video at The Huffington Post, click here.
FEC Complaint Calls for Investigation of Possible Illegal Contributions & Coordination by Montana Congressional Candidate & Super PAC He FoundedMar 5, 2014
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to investigate possible illegal in-kind contributions and coordination between Montana congressional candidate Ryan Zinke and the Super PAC he formed and that now supports his candidacy. The complaint, based on published reports, points to the Special Forces for America’s (SOFA) use of photographs that appear to have come from the Zinke campaign in television advertisements aired in support of Zinke’s candidacy. SOFA has spent more than $50,000 distributing the pro-Zinke ads since Zinke launched his campaign in October.
- Mar 4, 2014
Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center filed a brief in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit in defense of the State of Mississippi’s campaign finance disclosure laws. The brief urges the Court of Appeals to overturn a decision by the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi, which ruled that the individuals who brought the case would not have to reveal their spending or their funders as they promote the passage or defeat of state constitutional amendment ballot measures.”
Former FEC General Counsel Larry Noble Joins Campaign Legal Center Along with New Legal Fellow & New Operations ManagerMar 3, 2014
Today, the Campaign Legal Center welcomes former Federal Election Commission (FEC) General Counsel Larry Noble to its staff, along with Legal Fellow Catherine Hinckley Kelley and Operations Manager Kazi Jones.
Campaign Legal Center & Democracy 21 Join with Rep. Van Hollen to File IRS Comments Today Calling for Effective Definition of “Candidate-Related Campaign Activity” for 501(c)(4) GroupsFeb 27, 2014
The Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 joined with Representative Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) today to submit joint comments in an IRS rulemakingthat called on the IRS to adopt a new definition of “campaign-related political activity” to replace the existing vague “facts and circumstances” test. According to the comments, the new test should rely on clear and objective standards to define campaign activities by non-profit groups.
Watchdogs Urge FEC to Uphold Mobile Phone Ad Disclaimer Requirements & Conduct Long Overdue RulemakingFeb 25, 2014
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, strongly urged the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to uphold federal disclaimer requirements for political advertisements on mobile phones and further pressed the agency to conduct a related rulemaking originally proposed by the FEC in 2011. The watchdog groups filed comments in response to the FEC’s draft Advisory Opinions 2013-18, produced in response to a request from Revolution Messaging LLCseeking an exemption from the disclaimer requirements.