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NBC News Quotes Trevor Potter on How Stephen Colbert Taught Jeb Bush To Run For President

March 18, 2015, NBC News
NBC News quoted Trevor Potter regarding Stephen Colbert's satirical run for "President of the United States of South Carolina. In an effort to poke fun at the country's newly unrestricted campaign finance system, Colbert created a super PAC and was able to raise an unlimited amount of money from individuals, corporations, and unions. For the complete article, please visit NBC News'  website.

Excerpt taken from the article.

Live on his late night show, Colbert discussed the plans with his lawyer, Trevor Potter. Potter instructed him that Stewart could run the super PAC as long as the two men didn't "coordinate," adding that "being business partners does not count as coordination."

Potter knew what he was talking about -- he's a former chair of the Federal Election Commission.


"Colbert foreshadowed the idea that someone could control a super PAC and then when they decide to explore becoming a candidate then turn it over to someone like protégé Jon Stewart and the whole wink and nod coordination," Potter told NBC News.

The role of the potential candidates in their own super PACs this cycle is one of the things that concerns campaign finance experts.

"These are people who are actively running, they just haven't announced it," Potter said.
Potter notes that one difference from Colbert's mock strategy is that Bush is engaging in campaign-like activity with a super PAC, such as hiring staff and traveling to critical nominating states. Those actions have historically triggered the application of campaign finance restrictions, including stringent fundraising limits of $2,700 per individual. (Remember, super PACs can raise unlimited amounts of money.)

"The difference is one in the same breath: I'm in it for the nomination and later going to claim [that I'm] independent," Potter said.

Potter also notes that Bush is not alone. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is engaged in the same activity. While he didn't set up a super PAC, Walker created a 527 group, which is different because it registers with the IRS and not the FEC. But it can also accept unlimited campaign contributions.


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