(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.
- Jun 7, 2012
Yesterday, by an 8-4 party-line vote, House Republican Appropriators on the Financial Services Subcommittee voted to keep voters in the dark about who is spending what in our upcoming elections. The FY13 funding bill reported out of Subcommittee included a rider prohibiting the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) from implementing a new order requiring broadcasters to put their political files online instead of on paper.
- Jun 1, 2012
Super PACs are a blight on America's political landscape. They provide a means for very wealthy individuals and corporate special interests to evade anti-corruption laws that have been on the books for decades.
The courts have long recognized that large contributions to political candidates can corrupt and reduce public confidence in our democratic system. So courts have upheld limits on how much individuals may contribute to candidates, as well as outright bans on corporate and union contributions to candidates. But today, Super PACs are operating as de facto campaigns unrestricted by such limits.
Super PACs have the ability to both distort the political process and to affect the outcome of a federal election. Super PAC spending buys access and influence for the Super PAC funders.
- May 30, 2012
Today, the Campaign Legal Center filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) seeking an investigation of Rep. Edolphus Towns concerning allegations that he illegally converted campaign funds to personal use. Media reports have indicated that the Congressman’s wife, Gwen Towns, regularly uses a vehicle financed by the campaign for a variety of noncampaign-related personal uses, including her daily commute to and from her place of employment.
- May 29, 2012
The jury considering the charges against former Senator John Edwards has already surprised many observers by taking more time to consider the case than it took the Edwards lawyers to put on their defense. There is speculation that the case will be appealed if Edwards is convicted, raising questions about the judge’s instructions to the jury about the evidence and applicable standards of law.
One of the most interesting aspects of the case has been the disagreements about whether the case should have been brought in the first place - disagreements that are not falling along party or ideological lines. Those speaking out against the prosecution include Melanie Sloan of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), and former Federal Election Commissioner Scott Thomas, who testified in the case (with the jury out of the room).
Today, the Campaign Legal Center sent a letter to Senators addressing the “erroneous and misleading” legal criticisms of the DISCLOSE 2012 Act (S.2219) made by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. The letter from Executive Director J. Gerald Hebert and Policy Director Meredith McGehee was written in response to a letter sent to the Senate by the Chamber earlier this month which falsely describes the bill as unconstitutional and favoring unions.
IRS: New Crossroads GPS Information Submitted to IRS by Watchdogs Concerning Violations of Tax Status
In a letter sent to the IRS today, the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, submitted new information to the agency showing that Crossroads GPS is not entitled to tax-exempt status as a section 501(c)(4) “social welfare” organization.
The rush of litigation challenging campaign finance and disclosure laws continues nationwide in the wake of Citizens United. For your reference, the Campaign Legal Center has updated a summary document of recent cases of interest at the federal, state and municipal level. The summary provides a brief description of pending and recently decided cases, and the Legal Center’s involvement in those cases.
Trevor Potter Addresses the Campaign Finance Crisis in Speech to the American Law Institute Annual Meeting
Yesterday, Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter delivered an address on the state of campaign finance to the 89th Annual Meeting of American Law Institute at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington. The speech described our current campaign finance system as one where “[t]he laws written by Congress have been so rearranged by various Court decisions that they resemble the pieces of a jig-saw puzzle, laid out randomly on a table, with important pieces missing.”
- May 23, 2012
Remarks by CLC President Trevor Potter at the The American Law Institute's 89th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., May 23, 2012.
I am often asked how, after 25 years as an election lawyer, service as an FEC Commissioner, and General Counsel to 2 presidential campaigns, did you end up as Stephen Colbert’s lawyer on late night TV. The answer is “I was lucky…”
To read the full remarks, click here.
To view video footage of the speech, click here.