Trevor Potter is quoted by Variety concerning Bill Maher's plans to defeat an incumbent Member of Congress. If the host of HBO's "Real Time With Bill Maher" proceeds with his stated intentions, he will have to be careful of how he does it. Speech on his show should fall within the press exemption to FEC disclosure rules, but campaign activity in a Congressional district outside of the show would likely not. For more on the story, please visit Variety's website.
Excerpt taken from the article.
Trevor Potter, the Caplin & Drysdale election law attorney who represented Colbert, said that "as long as (Maher) is talking about candidates on the show, it will all be subject to the press exemption. There will be no restrictions on what he can say on his show."
"What he has got to be careful of, and has to think through, is if he gets active in a campaign in ways that are different from what he would do as a member of the press with his regular television show," says Potter, a former chairman of the FEC and president and general counsel at the Campaign Legal Center.
So if he travels to a congressional district, Potter says, the question will be, "Is whatever he is proposing to do in these districts consistent with what the show has normally done?"
If it is not, there also would be an issue of whether Maher coordinates his electioneering with the incumbent's opponent, Potter said.