CHESTERTOWN, MD—More than $600 million has been spent on election advertising in the 2012 presidential campaign, most of it in just three swing states. Can special-interest and corporate money buy an election?
That’s one question that will be addressed on Tuesday, October 16, in a talk by Trevor Potter, former Chairman of the Federal Election Commission, founder of the Campaign Legal Center and a leading authority on lobbying regulation, government ethics, and campaign finance issues. The event will take place at 5:30 p.m. in Hynson Lounge, Hodson Hall, at Washington College.
Potter is perhaps best known as a regular guest on “The Colbert Report” – in fact, journalist Bill Moyers has called him “the man who keeps Stephen Colbert out of jail.” Potter set up the Colbert Super PAC, “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow,” and appears regularly on the Comedy Central program to explain the muddy legalities of campaign finance.
The American Bar Association Journal described Potter as “hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law, and money.” He was general counsel to both the 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns of Senator John McCain and deputy general counsel to George H.W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign. He also was one of the leading lawyers behind the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, commonly known as McCain-Feingold and considered the most significant campaign-finance law in 30 years.
Potter is featured in the cover story of the latest issue of The Atlantic. The magazine describes him as America’s leading advocate of the position that “more money, more anonymity, and more spending by noncandidates are bad things, dangerous to democracy.”
“The Anatomy of an Election: Money” is the third event in a four-part series on the 2012 presidential election, co-sponsored by Washington College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience and the Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs.
The series concludes on October 23 with an event on the role of media. Panelists will include Betsy Fischer, longtime executive producer of Meet the Press, political reporters James Hohmann and Jonathan Martin of Politico, and Washington College alumnus Jack Bohrer ’06, who has written about politics for many publications, including The New Republic and Salon.
Founded in 1782 under the patronage of George Washington, Washington College is a private, independent college of liberal arts and sciences located in colonial Chestertown on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
The College’s C.V. Starr Center for the Study of the American Experience is dedicated to fostering innovative approaches to the American past and present. Through educational programs, scholarship and public outreach, and a special focus on written history, the Starr Center seeks to bridge the divide between the academic world and the public at large.
The Louis L. Goldstein Program in Public Affairs was established at the College in 1990 to encourage students to enter public service by introducing them to exemplary leaders, both in and out of government. The Goldstein Program sponsors lectures, symposia and visiting fellows, student participation in models and conferences, and other projects that bring students and faculty together with leaders experienced in developing public policy.