Trevor Potter: Happy Campaign Finance Warrior (Moyers & Company)


Trevor Potter has been working on campaign finance issues since 1985, when he joined the staff of then-Vice President George H.W. Bush. A frequent guest on Bill Moyers’s programs, he has served as the chairman of the Federal Election Commission and advised Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), on the drafting of the last major campaign finance reform legislation, the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. Most famously, Potter served as Stephen Colbert’s lawyer in an elaborate sendup of super PACs that the satirist conducted during the last presidential campaign cycle. 

So in the next couple weeks, we’re going to have lots of people marching on Washington about campaign finance reform. Why has it come to this?

Trevor Potter: It’s the movement of the day, I think. It’s interesting how quickly things have crystallized. I think part of it is the focus that the candidates have put on it in this presidential campaign, on both sides. On the Republican side, you have Donald Trump making an argument that he should be elected president, should be the Republican nominee because the system is corrupt and he is the only Republican candidate not participating in it.

I would say, just pausing there for a moment, that in itself is a sign of the problems our democracy has. First, that he can describe our system that way credibly and say, “I know because I’ve participated in it. I have done it.” You know, he’s said things like, you know, “Anyone will do what I ask as long as I give them money. Whenever I’ve wanted to do something, I have made contributions to politicians and they make things happen for me.” So he’s been very direct in saying that he knows the system because he’s used it to his professional commercial advantage over the years...

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