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The Huffington Post Quotes Trevor Potter: 2016 Candidates Thumb Their Noses at Campaign Finance Rules

March 18, 2015, The Huffington Post
The Huffington Post quoted Trevor Potter concerning non-candidates, or individuals exploring a presidential campaign, and loosely enforced campaign finance laws. In recent years, non-candidates have taken that freedom and raised unlimited sums of money for their own super PACs, thus eliminating any real limits on campaign contributions. For the complete article, please visit The Huffington Post's website.

Excerpt taken from the article.

Not everyone agrees that a candidate can insist on the non-candidate designation while testing the presidential waters.

"That is a complete legal fiction," said Trevor Potter, head of Caplin & Drysdale's election law practice and lawyer to both Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and comedian Stephen Colbert. "They are trying to have it both ways, and in my view, in most cases, already violating the law as a result," Potter said.

Legal concerns, however, have not stopped a large portion of the 2016 Republican presidential field from declaring themselves non-candidates and operating unlimited-money vehicles.


This kind of false non-candidacy is not a problem originating with the Citizens United decision, although the ruling's boost to super PACs makes delaying candidacy more appealing. It is instead a problem of non-enforcement of existing laws, according to Potter. And hopes for a remedy are dim.

Potter and the Campaign Legal Center, a watchdog group he founded, contend that federal law clearly states that any candidate testing the waters or exploring a presidential run must remain within the bounds of the campaign contribution limits. But as with so many other aspects of electoral law, the Federal Election Commission has failed to give that requirement any teeth.

"As long as the FEC is unable to enforce the law, I see nothing to make it any better," Potter said. "But that's not a legal issue. That's a question of an agency that isn't doing its job. That could be changed, but it hasn't been changed."


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