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Campaign Legal Center

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Campaign Legal Center
FoundedJanuary 2002 (2002-01)
FounderTrevor Potter
  • Washington, D.C.
Area served
United States
Key people
Paul M. Smith, Vice President, Litigation & Strategy

Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is a nonpartisan 501(c)(3) that works to reduce the influence of money in politics and to support unrestricted access to voting.[1]

CLC supports strong enforcement of United States campaign finance laws.[2][3] CLC attorneys track and participate in a variety of cases around the country involving campaign finance law at the federal, state and local levels.[2]

CLC also directly represents individuals in fighting for their right to access the ballot.[4][5][6]

CLC's website allows users to track the activities of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), campaign finance legislation, and good-government issues such as lobbying, ethics, and redistricting reform, while its blog offers expert opinion on such matters.[7] CLC also supports the need for free media access for candidates in order to dampen the need for incessant political fundraising.[8]

Trevor Potter, former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission,[9] is CLC's founding President.[10] He served as General Counsel to John McCain's 2008 Presidential campaign (while on leave of absence from CLC) and also held that position with the McCain 2000 campaign. Potter is also a practicing lawyer and Chairman of the Political Practice Group of the international law firm Caplin Drysdale.[11] J. Gerald Hebert previously served as CLC's Executive Director and Director of Litigation but now serves as Senior Director, Voting Rights and Redistricting.[12] The previous policy director is Meredith McGehee, formerly Chief Lobbyist for Common Cause,[13] but now serves as the executive director of Issue One.[14] Paul M. Smith joined Campaign Legal Center[15] in January 2017 as Vice President, Litigation and Strategy.[16]

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In 2004, it was a party to complaints filed with the Federal Election Commission against groups like the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and America Coming Together, for trying to directly influence federal elections.[17][18]

In 2006, CLC testified before Congress in support of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act (VRA).[19]

CLC was critical of former vice-presidential candidate John Edwards's use of charity organizations which he had founded, complaining they were being used chiefly to keep himself in the public eye in preparation for a possible 2008 presidential run.[20]

The group filed an amicus brief in the 2007 landmark Supreme Court case Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, unsuccessfully urging the Court not to strike down a provision of McCain-Feingold which prevented unlimited political contributions to organizations not directly affiliated with Federal candidates.[21] The following year it again filed a brief with the Court over a rule in the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act that raised contribution limits when candidates faced a self-funding opponent; the group favored the rule, which was struck down by the Court.[22]

In 2010, CLC joined with another watchdog group, Democracy 21, in asking the Internal Revenue Service to investigate a tax exempt social welfare group run by Karl Rove.[23]

The group filed an amicus brief in 2011 on behalf of eight public interest groups in support of challenged provisions of Arizona's clean election law, the Citizens Clean Elections Act. After the Court struck down the provisions,[24] a spokesperson for the group declared that the decision undermines "the integrity of our elections."[25] Later that year, CLC highlighted concerns before the FEC that Stephen Colbert's satirical Super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, had serious imitators exploiting the regulations on politicians with television contracts. The organization's President, Trevor Potter, served as Colbert's lawyer in establishing the PAC.[26] In August, it asked the U.S. Justice Department to probe the behavior of W Spann LLC.[27]

The group advocated for more legal restrictions on campaign giving and lobbying during the 2012 Presidential primaries.[28][29][30][31][32][33]

CLC attorneys represented[34] Wisconsin voters in the 2017 Supreme Court case Gill v. Whitford. CLC’s Paul Smith argued the case[35] before the Court on October 3, 2017.

In 2018, CLC launched a website for citizens with felony convictions to explain their voting rights in all 50 states.[36] That same year, CLC filed several complaints with the FEC alleging illegal coordination between the Trump campaign and the National Rifle Association.[37][38] CLC’s Potter also appeared on Face the Nation[39] and 60 Minutes[40] in 2018 to discuss President Trump’s potential campaign finance violations related to the hush money paid by Michael Cohen to Stormy Daniels. Prior to the 2018 election, CLC attorneys represented Native American voters in a case challenging North Dakota’s voter ID law.[41]

In late July 2020, CLC filed an 81-page complaint with the FEC against the Trump re-election campaign, alleging that it used pass-through entities to conceal almost $170M of campaign spending from the FEC.[42][43][44]


  1. ^ "Campaign Legal Center - MacArthur Foundation". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  2. ^ a b United States Supreme Court (2004). "Trade regulation series". 36 (1). Bureau of National Affairs: 630. Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  3. ^ Cressman, Derek (2007). The Recall's Broken Promise: How Big Money Still Runs California Politics. The Poplar Institute. p. 231.
  4. ^ United States Commission on Civil Rights (2018), "Access to Voting in Alabama", Page 18,
  5. ^ Marc Veasey v. Rick Perry, United States Supreme Court (2014),
  6. ^ Astor, Maggie (2018-11-01). "North Dakota Voter ID Law Stands After Last-Ditch Lawsuit". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  7. ^ Hrebenar, Ronald J.; Bryson B. Morgan (2009). Lobbying in America: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO. p. 263.
  8. ^ Brown, Lyle; Joyce A. Langenegger; Sonia R. García; Ted Lewis; Robert E. Biles (2011). Practicing Texas Politics. Cengage Learning. p. 176.
  9. ^ "Trevor Potter". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  10. ^ "Arena Profile: Trevor Potter". Politico.
  11. ^ Utter, Glenn H.; Ruth Ann Strickland (2008). Campaign and election reform: a reference handbook. ABC-CLIO. pp. 182–183.
  12. ^ "J. Gerald Hebert". Campaign Legal Center. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  13. ^ "Will 2012 Be the End of the Presidential Public Financing System?".
  14. ^ "Issue One – Meredith McGehee". Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  15. ^ "Paul M. Smith". Campaign Legal Center. Retrieved 2019-03-29.
  16. ^ Rosenstein, Peter (January 20, 2017), "Comings & Goings", Washington Blade, Retrieved February 17, 2017,
  17. ^ Schmidt, Steffen W.; Mack C. Shelley; Barbara A. Bardes; Lynne E. Ford (2011). American Government and Politics Today 2011-2012 Edition. Cengage Learning. p. 354.
  18. ^ York, Byron (2006). The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy: The Untold Story of the Democrats' Desperate Fight to Reclaim Power. Random House. p. 92.
  20. ^ Wayne, Leslie (2007-06-22). "In Aiding Poor, Edwards Built Bridge to 2008". New York Times. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  21. ^ Roche, Lisa Riley (June 26, 2007). "Justices ease limits on campaign ads". Deseret Morning News. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  22. ^ Gerstein, Josh (2008-04-22). "9 Will Hear Campaign-Finance Case". New York Sun. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  23. ^ Paulson, Amanda (2010-10-05). "Karl Rove group spends big in Election 2010, but is it legal? GOP strategist Karl Rove is sending big money to Republicans in close Election 2010 races. But two campaign watchdogs are asking the IRS to investigate his tax-exempt 'social welfare' group". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  24. ^ Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom Club PAC v. Bennett
  25. ^ KARMASEK, JESSICA M. (June 27, 2011). "U.S. SC rules against public financing program". Legal Newline. Archived from the original on 2011-09-03. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  26. ^ Geiger, Kim; Melanie Mason (June 30, 2011). "Stephen Colbert makes case before FEC for 'Colbert Super PAC'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  27. ^ Isikoff, Michael (2011-08-05). "Justice asked to probe mystery donation to pro-Romney group: Reform groups say $1 million from firm that soon dissolved itself could violate law". NBC. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  28. ^ Mooney, Brian C. (2012-01-26). "In Fla., donations to Gingrich erase Romney's edge". The Boston Globe. Archived from the original on 2013-01-18. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  29. ^ Palmer, Anna; Dave Levinthal (2012-01-25). "FEC reform petition lags; sponsor blames W.H." Politico. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  30. ^ Newmyer, Tory (2012-01-25). "Who's backing the GOP candidates? Super PACs are spending super sums to finance their Republican favorites. Good luck tracking down the source of those funds". Fortune/CNN. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  31. ^ Snyder, Jim (2012-01-25). "TransCanada Lobbying Tops $1.3 Million as It Pushes Keystone". Bloomberg News. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  32. ^ Negrin, Matt (2012-01-24). "Newt Gingrich: The Lobbyist Who Wasn't". ABC News. Retrieved December 6, 2012.
  33. ^ Evans, Will (January 24, 2012). "Hollywood money flows to Calif. politicians who support anti-piracy bills". Los Angeles News. Archived from the original on August 27, 2012. Retrieved October 11, 2012.
  34. ^ Bazelon, Emily (29 August 2017). "The New Front in the Gerrymandering Wars: Democracy vs. Math". The New York Times.
  35. ^ "Gill v. Whitford". SCOTUSblog. Scotus Blug. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  36. ^ Pitner, Barrett Holmes (12 August 2018). "Millions of Felons Are Getting Their Votes Back. Now They're Learning To Cast Them". The Daily Beast. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  37. ^ Mascia, Jennifer. "Watchdog Groups File FEC Complaint Over NRA Coordination With Trump Campaign". The Trace. The Trace. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  38. ^ Fredreka Schouten. "Group sues Federal Election Commission over allegation NRA broke campaign-finance law". CNN. Retrieved 2019-06-18.
  39. ^ Margaret, Brennan. "Watch Face The Nation: Face The Nation: Lanny Davis, Trevor Potter, Kelsey Snell - Full show on CBS All Access". CBS. CBS News. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  40. ^ Anderson, Cooper. "Stormy Daniels describes her alleged affair with Donald Trump". CBS. CBS News. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  41. ^ Astor, Maggie (1 November 2018). "North Dakota Voter ID Law Stands After Last-Ditch Lawsuit". The New York Times. The New York Times. Retrieved 11 June 2019.
  42. ^ Date, S. V. (2020-07-28). "Complaint: Trump Making Illegal Secret Payments, Including To His Own Family". HuffPost. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  43. ^ Nam, Rafael (2020-07-28). "Watchdog alleges Trump campaign illegally concealed $170 million in spending". TheHill. Retrieved 2020-07-30.
  44. ^ "Watchdog accuses Trump campaign of illegally masking millions in spending". Retrieved 2020-07-30.
This page was last edited on 14 August 2020, at 18:51
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