A former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, Trevor Potter has been fighting for campaign finance reform through the Campaign Legal Center, a non-profit organization he founded to track and pursue legal cases related to campaign finance, political communication and government ethics at the federal, state and local level. Potter is part of a pro bono team for Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) in the Van Hollen v. FEC case, which argued that politically active nonprofits, like their super PAC counterparts, should be required to publicly disclose donors to their communication initiatives. He is perhaps best known as Stephen Colbert’s chief advisor in the formation of the satirist’s super PAC and 501(c)(4).
A Republican, Potter advised George H.W. Bush during his 1988 bid for the presidency, and Sen. John McCain during his 2000 and 2008 presidential campaigns. He was instrumental in drafting legislation that would become the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (a.k.a. McCain-Feingold), which sought to end the use of “soft money” for federal campaign activities and regulate attack ads on candidates. Potter served as a commissioner on the Federal Election Commission from 1991-1995; he was elected as vice chairman in 1992 and chairman in 1994.
Potter is a graduate of Harvard College and the University of Virginia School of Law, where he has also taught seminars on campaign finance law. He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, where his focus is in governance studies. Mr. Potter also leads the Political Law Practice as a member at Caplin & Drysdale, which was listed by Chambers and Legal 500 as one of the best law firms in the United States in 2012. Washingtonian Magazine has also listed Trevor Potter as one of Washington’s best lawyers.