Campaign Legal Center
|Paul M. Smith, Vice President, Litigation & Strategy|
CLC supports strong enforcement of United States campaign finance laws. CLC attorneys track and participate in a variety of cases around the country involving campaign finance law at the federal, state and local levels.
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. CLC also supports the need for free media access for candidates in order to dampen the need for incessant political fundraising.
Trevor Potter, former Republican chairman of the Federal Election Commission, is CLC's founding President. 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. J. Gerald Hebert previously served as CLC's Executive Director and Director of Litigation but now serves as Senior Director, Voting Rights and Redistricting. The previous policy director is Meredith McGehee, formerly Chief Lobbyist for Common Cause, but now serves as the executive director of Issue One. Paul M. Smith joined Campaign Legal Center in January 2017 as Vice President, Litigation and Strategy.
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.
In 2006, CLC testified before Congress in support of reauthorizing the Voting Rights Act (VRA).
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.
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. 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.
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, a spokesperson for the group declared that the decision undermines "the integrity of our elections." 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. In August, it asked the U.S. Justice Department to probe the behavior of W Spann LLC.
In 2018, CLC launched a website for citizens with felony convictions to explain their voting rights in all 50 states. That same year, CLC filed several complaints with the FEC alleging illegal coordination between the Trump campaign and the National Rifle Association. CLC’s Potter also appeared on Face the Nation and 60 Minutes 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.
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