My very first day on the job and it was wonderful!
Back when the Hinckley asked their summer interns to decide on a host office, Campaign Legal Center was one of my top choices.
Right from their website, “the Campaign Legal Center (CLC) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that defends and protects our democracy in the areas of campaign finance, voting rights, political communication and government ethics. CLC works every day to attack laws and regulations that undermine the fundamental rights of all Americans to participate in the political process and to defend laws that protect these interests. Working in administrative, legislative and legal proceedings, CLC shapes our nation’s laws and policies so that the right to have a voice in our free and democratic society remains the foundation of our political system.”
(To explore our site yourself, click here.)
The team is made up of about 14 permanent team members, who work year round litigating cases, filing complaints with the FEC, DOJ, etc., and basically functioning as a watchdog group. To those of you reading that don’t really get that, a watchdog group acts as another “check” against our government. There are the typical checks between the three branches of the government, but a watchdog group is not a government entity. These watchdog groups are non-partisan and their stated mission (like the CLC quote above) includes monitoring branches of the state or federal governments for fraud, waste, abuse, corruption, mismanagement, illegal activity, campaign donor influence, abuse of authority, miscarriage of justice, and so forth. Groups whose primary purpose are political or issue advocacy oriented are not watchdog groups and are categorized elsewhere.
This is also a great time to be part of a team like the CLC, given the upcoming presidential elections. The office is always abuzz with excitement over what the candidates are doing, what complaints or OpEds we have coming out, and what interviews we have coming up. We, the CLC, have a responsibility to keep the elections as fair as possible and to fight for the voters being discriminated against. It feels so crazy to think that not 3 years ago I was sitting in my AP Government class in high school, talking about watchdog groups and Washington D.C., and now I am actually here and working as part of one!
I also like that I am getting both nonprofit and law firm-esque experience, because those are two areas I am interested in going in to in the future. It is never too early to start planning for grad school, and since law school is so hard to get in to, not to mention expensive, I am going to need all the help I can get beforehand. The CLC has a great reputation among top law programs in the country, as many of our board members are also professors at universities such as Yale and Harvard. They also have recommended many of their past interns for jobs working in the Supreme Court or law firms here in D.C. I feel blessed to have this internship and the opportunity to make connections that will help me for my future studies and career. Hey, you gotta play the networking card sometimes!
Anyways, my first day on the job, was the typical first day: introductions, setting up your work space, etc. The exciting thing about my first day, though, was that one of the staffers took me and the two other interns to a conference where our president was speaking. (I’m going to name drop… he’s Trevor Potter, former FEC Commissioner, top staffer for John McCain’s presidential campaigns, and top lawyer at Jenner & Block… he is a political celebrity!)
In the conference, put on by Take Back Our Republic, Trevor and two other experts talked about current issues our elections are having because of foreign contributions. These contributions have flooded our elections and politicians are greatly influenced by foreign interests once they are elected because they want to keep the connections for future elections.
The panel was really interesting, and I thought it was a great introduction into the work I would be doing with the CLC.
It was also held in the National Press Club, where anyone who is anyone has spoken at one point or another (think Presidents, celebrity activists, etc.).
Here is a picture from the conference. CNN posted it on their Twitter page, so I felt a little famous being in the picture. It looks like my eyes are closed, but I promise I was probably just blinking!