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The Lawyer Behind Stephen Colbert’s Campaign

The Lawyer Behind Stephen Colbert’s Campaign

Potter.jpgTrevor Potter of the firm Caplin & Drysdale, a Washington, D.C. Super Lawyers listee in 2008 and 2009, is in the spotlight these days for his political campaign work, which isn’t unusual for him. He served as deputy general counsel for George H.W. Bush in 1988 and general counsel for John McCain in 2000 and 2008; he’s used to working in big-time politics. But now he’s doing something completely different: working in big-time comedy.

Potter has set up comedian Stephen Colbert’s Super PAC so the Comedy Central star can run for, as he puts it, President of the United States of South Carolina. Potter has made several appearances on the show to explain to Colbert and his audience how a Super PAC works in light of the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision, which now defines corporate donations as free speech. Potter talked to us about how get involved in the campaign and what it’s like working with a comedian who could in fact become president.

“I was asked to appear on the show in March to describe what a federal PAC is because Stephen had talked about PACs on the show and he wanted to know more about them. That’s where it all began. He really wanted to learn.”

And so was born “Americans for a Better Tomorrow, Tomorrow.” What have been Potter’s impressions of the candidate thus far?

“The amazing thing about Stephen  is how quickly his mind works–I always feel he is one step ahead of me,” he says. “I vividly remember seeing the look on his face last spring when I said on the show that if he got an FEC advisory opinion he would be ‘bulletproof.” He said, ‘Bulletproof? Really?’ I could almost literally see his his mind whirling. Then he said, ‘Boy, I bet Bin Laden wished he’d asked for one.” It was a totally spontaneous reaction–live–and perfect.”

Watch the moment here and stay tuned.

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