The man who told Stephen Colbert how to set up his own super PAC told Bill Moyers this week that regardless of judicial intent, fundraising groups of that type are not independent of their candidates of choice.
“When the courts midwifed these things, they said, ‘They can’t corrupt because they’re totally independent of candidates and parties,'” former former Federal Election Commission chairperson Trevor Potter said, referring to the 2010 Citizens United verdict. “‘That’s why you can give them an unlimited amount, because you’re not buying access, the candidates may not like them, they’re wholly independent.'” Well that’s baloney. They’re not independent in any way.”
Instead, Potter said, because candidates are allowed to endorse them, super PACs have become “sort of shadow party committees.”
Last year, Potter advised Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, on how to start his own super PAC, which he handed over in January to Daily Show host Jon Stewart while considering a presidential campaign. The “Definitely Not Collaborating With Stephen Colbert super PAC” would subsequently receive more than $1 million in donations and earn Colbert two Peabody Awards as he used the campaign to lampoon the 2010 Citizens United ruling, which found political spending constituted free speech.
“Money equals speech,” Colbert said in January. “Therefore the more money you have, the more you can speak. That just stands to reason. If corporations are people, corporation should be able to speak. That’s why I believe in super PACs.”
Moyers said he found Colbert’s antics funny, but that the whole super PAC process was “no laughing matter.” However, Potter told Moyers that what he called the escalating “arms race’ between super PACs for Mitt Romney and Barack Obama could ultimately lead to positive changes in fundraising laws.
“In a way, and I know this will sound a little odd, that’s not entirely a bad outcome for this election,” said Potter, who also served as Rep. John McCain’s (R-AZ) general counsel during the 2008 presidential campaign. “Because what — where we have been is that the Republicans have proven they have an enormous advantage of raising money — and I’m a Republican. But the party has essentially said, ‘We have such a tactical advantage, that we’re not going to change this system.'”
If Democratic groups raise enough money during this election, Potter said, both sides would then step back to review campaign contribution rules. Moyers’ interview with Potter, published Friday, can be seen below.
‘He’s a child going to a playdate’: Trump’s inability to talk to world leaders mocked by MSNBC guest
On MSNBC Saturday, former professor and Michigan gubernatorial candidate Abdul El-Sayed blasted President Donald Trump's inability to behave like a world leader at the G7 summit, or to have meaningful dialogues with the heads of allied countries.
"Abdul, do you think there is any chance that Donald Trump gets through this weekend without any drama?" asked anchor Alex Witt.
"Well, look, if you used the last week as any indication, I think it's no chance," said El-Sayed. "We're talking about the president of the United States as if he's a child going to a playdate."
"Honestly, we have to have a serious conversation about the fact that he's just headlong pitched our economy down the tubes," continued El-Sayed. "He's been doing it because of a spat that he has with a leader in China. And we're talking about whether or not he's going to have a good time at the G7. This is the president of the United States. We have to treat him as such and we have to be asking about whether or not we are willing to get serious about the conversation that we need to be having about what's going to happen in our future."
Still-free Epstein friend Ghislaine Maxwell likely cooperating with prosecutors: Vanity Fair columnist
High-powered wealth manager Jeffrey Epstein may have committed suicide — but the case looking into his alleged involvement in trafficking and raping teenage girls is far from over. One particular loose end is Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite who was close friends with Epstein — and who is accused of helping to groom Epstein's victims, and who has seemingly disappeared.
As Vanity Fair contributor William Cohen told MSNBC's Alex Witt, Maxwell is likely not really on the lam at all — she may be helping prosecutors in secret, to lull Epstein's other co-conspirators into a false sense of security.
MSNBC’s Joy Reid names every Trump-loving evangelical leader who refused to take her call on Trump’s ‘chosen one’ claim
On Saturday, in conversation with Muslim political commentator Dean Obeidallah, MSNBC's Joy Reid castigated evangelical conservatives for their silence on President Donald Trump anointing himself "the chosen one" and retweeting a radio host who compared him to the second coming of Jesus Christ.
"Dean, we reached out to a bunch of people," said Reid. "I wanted to know — I grew up in the church. The idea of somebody declaring themselves the next coming of God or the King of Israel, which is what the Romans used to belittle Jesus before they executed him for defying the Roman emperor — Now Trump saying it's a joke, it's apostasy. We reached out to Franklin Graham, Ralph Reed, Focus on the Family, Jerry Falwell Jr., Vice President Mike Pence, and the RNC. We got no response at all. We had Pat Robertson, who declined to comment."