Trevor Potter Helps Stephen Colbert File Comments in Support of American Crossroads’ Request to Run “Issue Ads” that Are Coordinated with Candidates in Reality but not in Law


Campaign Legal Center President Trevor Potter appeared again last night on Comedy Central’s “The Colbert Report” as host Stephen Colbert’s “personal lawyer.”  This time Potter helped Colbert file comments in support of an FEC advisory opinion request by American Crossroads in which the controversial Super PAC seeks to run ads like those being run by the Nebraska Democratic Party in support of Senator Ben Nelson, featuring Senator Nelson reading a script, yet allegedly not ‘coordinated’ with Senator Nelson.

The tongue-in-cheek letter encouraged the FEC to ignore the Supreme Court’s 1976 Buckley v. Valeo definition of “non-coordinated” as “made totally independently of the candidate and his campaign” and “end up with a ruling that allows outside groups to produce ads with the candidate’s cooperation, themes, and message.”

The entire letter to the FEC is worth reading, but the following passage, which appeared as a postscript to Colbert’s letter, gives a further sense of the tone of the correspondence:

“PS – If the commission does not see fit to grant this request fully, Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow would like to offer a compromise.  To avoid the appearance of collusion, the F.E.C. could rule that candidates can appear in Super PAC ads only against their will.  They’d have to be kidnapped, blindfolded, and thrown in a van before being forced to read a statement supporting their goals and then returned to their fundraisers in time for dessert.”

To watch Colbert’s explanation of the issue, click here.

To watch Trevor Potter’s appearance, click here.

To read Colbert’s letter to the FEC on the Colbert Super PAC website, click hereor here on the Election Law Blog.

Potter is representing Mr. Colbert through his private practice and has disqualified himself from the Legal Center’s work in connection with Colbert’s political activities.