(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.
Montana Reversal Unfortunate but Predictable – Emphasizes Need for New FEC Commissioners & Legislative Solutions: Statement of Paul S. Ryan, Campaign Legal Center Senior CounselJun 25, 2012
Today, the U.S. Supreme Court granted certiorari and summarily reversed the Montana State Supreme Court in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock, striking down Montana’s long-standing corporate expenditure restriction.
- 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.
- 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 19, 2012
On the surface, a Constitutional amendment overturning Citizens United might seem like a golden ticket for those who were stunned by the Court's decision. An amendment would appear to respond to the problem of huge corporate expenditures and contributions often made with anonymous funds, and would place such restrictions beyond the reach of the heavy-handed Roberts Court. But while an effort the likes of Rep. Schiff’s is admirable, it is not necessarily the best answer.
It is certainly understandable why many favor a Constitutional amendment to counter Citizens United, which overturned nearly 100 years of laws. But Constitutional amendments are nearly impossible to pass - according to C-SPAN, up to 200 amendments are proposed every term of Congress - and even once that mountain is scaled, are often possible to circumvent.
- Jun 19, 2012
In a letter to President Obama today, the Campaign Legal Center joined with eleven other organizations in criticizing the Administration’s lackluster response to a petition signed by 27,000 Americans calling on the President to appoint new commissioners to the Federal Election Commission (FEC).
- Jun 14, 2012
Has the coverage of super PACs, and Adelson's donation specifically, been warranted? Absolutely! Citizens United and its progeny, SpeechNow, have created an Orwellian world in which money is speech and corporations are people. it defies common sense.
New avenues created by Citizens United allow billionaires like Adelson to spend unlimited money to influence candidates -and the elections themselves. This avenue for big money-influence is nothing less than a seismic shift in the democratic process.
Before 2010, gifts to PACs (groups that influence federal elections) had limits. If Sheldon Adelson wanted to give to organized political entities, there were caps in place to limit his personal influence. Individuals could make independent expenditures, but they had proved both cumbersome and had limited effectiveness for a number of reasons.
- Jun 14, 2012
The Federal Election Commission (FEC) was unable to agree that ads proposed by the 501(c)(4) group American Future Fund (AFF), using recordings of President Obama’s voice and the phrases “the White House” and “the Administration,” refer to a “clearly identified candidate” and therefore constitute “electioneering communication” subject to disclosure laws requiring the group to reveal its funders. The FEC deadlocked on 5 of 8 proposed advertisements submitted in AFF’s Advisory Opinion Request (AOR 2012-19).
U.S. Senate: Democracy Groups Call on Senate Leaders to Stop House Attempt to Block Online Access to Broadcaster Public FilesJun 13, 2012
Today, the Campaign Legal Center, along with seventeen other organizations, called on Senate appropriators to stop a House Appropriation subcommittee rider to block funding for a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) regulation that broadcasters post their public political files online.
- Jun 12, 2012
Today, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit affirmed a lower court ruling upholding FEC rules governing donor disclosure in The Real Truth About Obama (RTAO) v. FEC. The suit specifically challenged the “subpart (b)” definition of “expressly advocating” (11 C.F.R. § 100.22(b)), as well as the FEC’s methodology for determining when a group has campaign activity as its “major purpose,” an important step in the larger determination of political committee status.
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.