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Democracy Decoded: Season 1, Episode 1

Cracks in the System

Democracy Decoded: Season 1, Episode 1

Cracks in the System

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Joined by Trevor Potter, president of Campaign Legal Center and a Republican former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, host Simone Leeper breaks down the basics of America’s campaign finance system. At the root of their discussion is an examination of how illegal coordinated campaign spending occurs, and why it has not been properly addressed.

Trevor speaks about his appearances on the Colbert Report and discusses what has changed (or not changed) in campaign finance over the past ten years. He also reveals his fears that the current lack of transparency and outsized spending by special interests on our elections is leading to the disillusionment of American voters who feel they're not being heard - that their voices don't matter because somebody with a lot of money is able to simply buy the results they want.

Read the Full Transcript 


Host and Guest:

Simone Leeper litigates a wide range of redistricting-related cases at CLC, challenging gerrymanders and advocating for election systems that guarantee all voters an equal opportunity to influence our democracy. Prior to arriving at CLC, Simone was a law clerk in the office of Senator Ed Markey and at the Library of Congress, Office of General Counsel. She received her J.D. cum laude from Georgetown University Law Center in 2019 and a bachelor’s degree in political science from Columbia University in 2016. 

Trevor Potter is the founder and President of Campaign Legal Center. He is a former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, and was General Counsel to John McCain’s 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns, and an adviser to the drafters of the McCain-Feingold law. To many, he is perhaps best known for his recurring appearances on The Colbert Report as the lawyer for Stephen Colbert’s super PAC, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow, during the 2012 election, a program that won a Peabody Award for excellence in reporting on money in politics. 


Colbert Episodes: 

Season 7, Episode 43: Colbert PAC – Trevor Potter 

Season 7, Episode 52: Colbert Super PAC – Trevor Potter 

Season 7, Episode 124: Colbert Super PAC – Trevor Potter & Stephen’s Shell Corporation 

Comedy Central’s “Colbert Super PAC” 
©2022 Comedy Partners. All Rights Reserved. CBS, all related titles, characters, and logos are trademarks owned by Viacom International Inc



About the FEC (Federal Election Commission) 

Cost of Election statistics ( 

“PACs, Super PACs & Dark Money Groups: What's the Difference?" (Campaign Legal Center) 

“How Does the Citizens United Decision Still Affect Us in 2022?" (Campaign Legal Center) 

“Ten Years After Potter’s Interview on Colbert’s Show, Illegal Coordination Still Pervades” (Campaign Legal Center) 

"Democracy Decoded: Trevor Potter's Story" (Campaign Legal Center)

"Democracy Decoded: That Lawyer from “The Colbert Report”" (Campaign Legal Center)

"Democracy Decoded: My Time on the Federal Election Commission" (Campaign Legal Center)


About CLC: 

Democracy Decoded is a production of Campaign Legal Center, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization which advances democracy through law at the federal, state and local levels, fighting for every American’s right to responsive government and a fair opportunity to participate in and affect the democratic process. Learn more about us.