Election Law

Legal group that helped Stephen Colbert set up a Super PAC gets MacArthur grant

A legal group that seeks to reduce the influence of money in politics has won a $750,000 grant from the MacArthur Foundation.

The Campaign Legal Center in Washington, D.C., is one of seven nonprofit groups that received grants of up to $1 million, a press release says. The Campaign Legal Center helped comedian Stephen Colbert set up a Super PAC and educate his viewers about secret money in campaigns, according to this separate press release. The group also seeks to strengthen voting rights and regulate lobbying.

The group’s general counsel, Trevor Potter, says in a video that the Colbert Super PAC was created to explain how the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision changed money in American politics. The Campaign Legal Center has also been involved in several Supreme Court cases involving money and politics, according to the group’s executive director and litigation director, Gerry Hebert.

The group will use the money to redesign its website and build up its reserve fund.

Another nonprofit with a legal connection, the University of Chicago Crime Lab, is getting a $1 million grant. The lab uses scientific evidence to evaluate strategies to reduce crime and violence, according to this press release.

The investigative journalism group Pro Publica also won a $1 million grant. Its legal stories have covered a forfeiture program that sweeps up innocent homeowners, presidential pardons, and the Justice Department’s use of unpaid lawyers.

The 2014 MacArthur Awards for Creative and Effective Institutions were given to groups that “demonstrated outsized impact in improving the lives of people and communities,” MacArthur President Robert Gallucci said in the press release.

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