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Trevor Potter, Campaign and Election Lawyer, Visits Campus

Trevor Potter Speaking

Leading election law expert and College of Law Professor, Josh Douglas, brought Trevor Potter, national campaign and election lawyer, to campus on October 1, 2014. 

Potter has served as general counsel to several presidential campaigns, most recently for John McCain in 2008. He is a member at Caplin & Drysdale, leading the firm’s Political Law Group the founder, President and General Counsel of the Campaign Legal Center and the former Commissioner and Chairman of the Federal Election Commission. Potter has frequented The Colbert Report often as the campaign finance attorney for Stephen Colbert. He has been described by the American Bar Association Journal as "hands-down one of the top lawyers in the country on the delicate intersection of politics, law, and money." 

While at UK College of Law, Potter spoke in depth about Political Action Committees (PACs) and how they work in relation to funding election campaigns. It was his expertise in campaign finance that landed him his first guest appearance on the late night show, The Colbert Report.

“I’m sometimes asked how in the world I got there, to which the answer, which every good lawyer should remember is, just return phone calls, even from people you’ve never heard of.” 

Potter returned a Colbert Report staff member’s phone call concerning PACs, which led to him speaking on the phone with Stephen Colbert. This further led him to an appearance on The Colbert Report to explain on live television how to create a 501 (c) 3 and then funnel money from it to a PAC while remaining anonymous. 

After the noontime forum, Potter spoke to Professor Douglas’ Election Law class.

Potter, a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, has published several books and articles. He has testified before Congress on federal election proposals and campaign finance regulation, and has taught campaign finance law at the University of Virginia School of Law and Oxford University. He Co-Chaired the American Bar Association (ABA) Task Force on Lobbying Regulation and Co-Chairs the ABA’s Administrative Law Section’s Election Law Committee and is the liaison for the Advisory Committee of the Standing Committee on Election Law. 

Potter received his J.D. and Order of the Coif from the University of Virginia School of Law, where he was Editor-in-Chief for the Virginia Journal of International Law, and his A.B. from Harvard College.