Trevor Potter


In this transcript, Mr. Trevor Potter, former head of the Federal Elections Commission, moderated a five-person panel on the role of contribution limits and public financing in campaign finance reforms. Acknowledging that on the federal level there is both public funding and mostly unlimited private funding, Mr. Potter posed to the panel the question of whether such a system is good for the public. Through an examination of state examples presented by the panelists, the discussion focused on how public funding is actually working. This discussion included whether public financing of communication is sufficient, particularly as compared to self-funded candidates, and finally what can be learned from the examples presented by the panelists. The panel also discussed the effect of contribution limits taking into account variations between jurisdictions’ regulations from various sources, such as PACs, political committees, corporations, unions and lobbyists. The five panelists were: (1) Ms. Kathleen Czar, executive director of the Minnesota Democratic Farmer Labor Party; (2) Mr. Kevin Kennedy, executive director of the Wisconsin Elections Board; (3) Mr. Harold Ickes, former White House Deputy Chief of Staff and current principle of the Ickes & Enright Group; (4) Mr. John Fund, “the voice . . . of the Wall Street Journal editorial page;” and (5) Mr. Robert M. Stern, Co-Director of the Center for Governmental Studies in California. This panel was held during From the Ground Up: Local Lessons for National Reform, a national conference on campaign finance reform held on November 9, 1998, sponsored by the New York City Campaign Finance Board and the Association of the Bar of the City of New York.

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