McGeorge School of Law

Capital Center and FPPC Explore 40 Years of Political Reform

September 25, 2014

Trevor Potter

Trevor Potter, former Chair of the Federal Election Commission

The McGeorge Capital Center and the Fair Political Practices Commission hosted a morning of spirited dialogue examining 40 years of political reform in California on Sept. 17, 2014 at "Political Reform's 40th Anniversary: A Dynamic Look at the Past, Present and Future."

Prominent speakers gathered in the McGeorge lecture hall to discuss and debate the past, present and future of the landmark 1974 initiative, the California Political Reform Act, that created the FPPC and made California a national leader in regulating campaign finance, conflicts of interest, and governmental ethics.

The event featured a Capital Center Lecture Series keynote address delivered by former Chair of the Federal Elections Commission, general counsel to three presidential campaigns, and lawyer for the Stephen Colbert "Super PAC," Trevor Potter.

After a welcome by Jodi Remke, '91, Chair of Fair Political Practices Commission and McGeorge Dean Francis J. Mootz III, the first panel reviewed the climate in Sacramento prior to the passage of the act and the past 40 years in "A Look Back at the Political Reform Act." The speakers were Greg Lucas, California State Librarian and former San Francisco Chronicle Reporter; John Burton, Chair of California Democratic Party and former California State Assemblymember and senator; and Tom Houston, former Chair of the FPPC.

Following the first panel, Leslie Gielow Jacobs, Director of the McGeorge Capital Center for Law & Policy introduced students who made presentations about the McGeorge Capital Lawyering Program and the McGeorge Law Review:

  • McGeorge Law Review Chief Online Editor Brian Geremia, '15, announced the launch of Under the Dome, a joint activity of the McGeorge Capital Center and the McGeorge Law Review, which will be an online resource for California law, politics and policy. McGeorge Law Review staff writer Amanda Kelley, '16, posted an article on Under the Dome that summarizes the panel "A Look Back at the Political Reform Act." Patrick Ford, '15, posted an article on Under the Dome that summarizes the panel "The Act in Present Day." Robert Binning, '15, posted an article on Under The Dome about the panel "The Future of the Act, Disclosure vs. Contribution Limits."
  • Patrick Ford, '15, and Elizabeth Kim, '15, discussed their work with alumni mentor Gary Winuk, '97, Chief of the FPPC Enforcement Division to track proposed election legislation for the annual McGeorge Law Review "Greensheets" issue, which consists of student-authored pieces discussing the background and legal implications of recently enacted California legislation.
  • Robert Binning, '15, and Vallerye Mosquera, '15, introduced themselves as student authors for the California Initiative Review (CIR), a non-partisan, objective Web publication produced by students under the direction of Professor Mary-Beth Moylan. The CIR provides comprehensive, independent analyses of California ballot initiatives and related issues as an aid to voters and will be published on Oct. 14 at A public forum to discuss the CIR will be held at McGeorge at 5 p.m. on Oct. 14, 2014.
  • Lexi Howard, '15, shared her experience in the new Legislative and Public Policy Clinic last academic year. Under the guidance of alumni Adjunct Professor Rex Frasier, '00, students draft legislation and regulations to solve real problems and follow them through the lawmaking process, gaining real life practical experience and the personal and professional satisfaction of having an impact by changing the law.

The second panel discussed "The Act in Present Day." Karen Getman, Partner at Remcho, Johansen, & Purcell, LLP and former FPPC Chair; Erin Peth, Executive Director of the FPPC; and McGeorge Professor Mary-Beth Moylan. The third panel explored "The Future of the Act, Disclosure vs. Contribution Limits." Professor Jessica Levinson, Loyola Law School and Vice President of the LA Ethics Commission, and William R. Maurer, Executive Director of the Institute for Justice, Washington Office, spoke on the topic.

The keynote address by Trevor Potter, former Chair of the Federal Election Commission, concluded the event. Potter is a Member in Caplin & Drysdale's Washington, D.C. office, where he leads the firm's Political Law Group. He is one of the nation's best-known and experienced campaign and election lawyers.

The McGeorge Capital Center hosts notable, keynote speakers who bring timely and thoughtful commentary to current state and federal issues relating to government and public law and policy. The next Capital Center Lecture, "Picking Cotton – A presentation on Injustice and Redemption," is on Dec. 10, 2014 at 5 p.m. at the Sutter Club.

The FPPC and McGeorge Capital Center developed a feature film for the 40th Anniversary of the FPPC that will broadcast on PBS stations around the nation. It tells the history of political reform in California, from drinks at Frank Fat's to the Political Reform Act, which created the FPPC, through interviews with key players such as Governor Jerry Brown, ex-Governor Pete Wilson, former FPPC chairs, Sacramento reporters Dan Walters and Dan Morain, and others. The film is available on YouTube.