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Trevor Potter Quoted on Campaign Finance

October 5, 2012, Slate

Trevor Potter is quoted in the Slate article "James Bopp Jr. Gets Creative," which asks the question:  How does the conservative maestro of campaign finance fund his legal work?  

Excerpt taken from the article.

As James Bennet tells us in his excellent Atlantic piece, Bopp is the legal mind behind the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision and another influential 2007 ruling, which together helped weaken disclosure requirements for political giving and ushered in the unlimited corporate and union donations of the Super PAC era.

Here's a riff on Bopp that Bennet didn't touch on: his unusual relationship with the James Madison Center for Free Speech, a nonprofit organization he co-founded in 1997. As a charity, the organization doesn't really exist, outside of a few tax records in an IRS file cabinet. In reality, Bopp is the Madison Center, and vice versa, and for more than 15 years, the Indiana-based charity has helped fund Bopp's influential litigation by channeling tax-exempt, mostly anonymous donations to his for-profit law firm.

. . .

To understand the potential problem, it's helpful to look at the Campaign Legal Center, which is linked to attorney Trevor Potter, whom Bennet describes as Bopp's ideological rival. The Campaign Legal Center has the more familiar trappings of a typical nonprofit; it employs at least five paid staffers aside from Potter, maintains significant financial reserves year-to-year, and occupies offices distinct from Potter's own. And while Potter litigates for the group and serves as its "general counsel," the same position Bopp nominally holds with the Madison Center, tax records show Potter receiving a fixed salary from year to year. The sum paid to Bopp's firm, by contrast, balloons and contracts in proportion to the revenue the Madison Center receives.

For the complete article, please go to Slate's website.


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