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.
The American Bar Association Journal has described Potter as “hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law and money.” A Republican, he was appointed to the FEC in 1991 by President George H.W. Bush. A nonresident Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, Potter is the author of several books and manuals on lobbying regulation and disclosure, campaign finance, and federal election law. He has testified before Congress on federal election proposals and campaign finance regulation, and has taught campaign finance law at the University of Virginia School of Law and Oxford University. He has served as Chair of several American Bar Association election law and lobbying regulation committees and task forces, and is currently a member of the ABA's Standing Committee on Election Law as well as the American Law Institute.
In recent years, Potter has led CLC as it has grown to meet significant challenges to our democracy. In October 2017, lawyers for CLC argued Gill v. Whitford, the groundbreaking Supreme Court case seeking to end extreme partisan gerrymandering. CLC plays a leading watchdog role on ethics issues, providing expert analysis and helping journalists uncover ethical violations, and participates in legal proceedings across the country to defend the right to vote and improve the disclosure and regulation of campaign finance.
Potter has recently appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes with Anderson Cooper, on CBS’s morning news show Face the Nation, on NBC’s Nightly News, and in the films Dark Money (2018) and The King (2017). His writing has been featured in publications such as The Washington Post and The Hill.
Trevor's Notable Appearances, Publications, and Speeches
July 4th Oration at the Chautauqua Institution
In 2016, Potter delivered the July 4th oration at the Chautauqua Institution. His talk was entitled, A Republic, If You Can Keep It (a reference to Benjamin Franklin's famous statement about the form of government the Constitutional Convention had created.
Colbert, Potter & Super PACs
Potter played an important role in the 2012 election cycle: that of "personal lawyer" to comedian Stephen Colbert on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report.