Stephen Colbert's Lawyer Explains the Danger of Super PACs

Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, tells James Bennet how campaign finance went bad after Citizens United.

In April of last year, Stephen Colbert welcomed Trevor Potter, former chairman of the Federal Election Commission, to his fake news show. Potter was presumably there to comfort Colbert, who had just learned that his efforts to start a political action committee on behalf of The Colbert Report had been thwarted. "It's all paid for by the network, and they're a corporation," Potter explained. "And traditionally, corporations can't give to PACs."

Actually, Potter was on the show to help Colbert launch a new "Super PAC" -- and highlight what both men see as an absurdity of today's political system. Ever since the 2010 Citizens United decision, corporations have been allowed to donate as much money as they want to any political candidate. In this video, Potter discusses this massive change in the political process with James Bennet, Atlantic editor in chief and author of the October cover story "The New Price of American Politics."


Jennie Rothenberg Gritz is The Atlantic's digital features editor. More

Jennie Rothenberg Gritz, an Atlantic senior editor, began her association with the magazine in 2002, shortly after graduating from the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism. She joined the staff full time in January 2006. Before coming to The Atlantic, Jennie was senior editor at Moment, a national magazine founded by Elie Wiesel.

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