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Trevor Potter Comments on Supreme Court's Reversal of a Major Provision of the Campaign Finance Law

April 2, 2014

NPR spoke with Caplin & Drysdale's Trevor Potter concerning the Supreme Court's decision to remove the cap on the total amount of money donors can contribute to candidates and parties in each election.  Just in time for the next election cycle, the ruling is the latest in a series of decisions that have practically demolished the campaign reforms adopted by Congress 40 years ago in the wake of the Watergate scandal.  Mr. Potter is a former Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission and current General Counsel for the Campaign Legal Center, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit which focuses on campaign finance issues in the courts and before the FEC. For more on the story, please visit NPR's website.

Excerpt taken from the article.
 
Roberts acknowledged that big donors may have more influence with and access to the candidates they support, but he said that is not enough to justify limiting their speech. Instead, he said, any limits on speech must be aimed at something close to bribery, a quid pro quo. And he dismissed as "speculative" the dissenters' prediction that millions of dollars in special-influence money would now flood the system. Roberts said that could be prevented by the Federal Election Commission enforcing regulations now on the books.

"I was laughing as I read that section of that opinion," said Trevor Potter, a former FEC chairman, and former counsel for Republican Sen. John McCain's presidential campaign.

"It's in some ways sort of willful blindness" said Potter, because "the reality is there are lots of rules on the books and we have had now for several years a Federal Election Commission which is not enforcing any of them." The FEC, which has an equal number of Republican and Democratic commissioners, has become "deadlocked," he observed.

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