Election Law

Campaign Donors in Diapers on the Rise

Presidential campaign donors in diapers. A 13-year-old giving $2,300 of his bar mitzvah and dog-sitting money to candidates.

That may be hard to believe, but that’s what the Washington Post found when it started looking into election trends this year.

This month’s issue of the ABA Journal also took a look at campaign donations, but exclusively from lawyers and law firms, in Paying Politics.

The Post didn’t estimate how much campaign cash is coming from children, but noted that the number of checks written by donors identifying themselves as students has risen dramatically. Citing figures from the Center for Responsive Politics, the Post reports that during the first half of 2000, students gave $338,464. The number in 2004 was $538,936. And so far this year: $1,967,111.

“It’s not difficult for a banker or a trial lawyer or a hedge fund manager to come up with $2,300, and they’re often left wanting to do more,” Massie Ritsch, a spokesman for the Center for Responsive Politics, told the Post. “That’s when they look across the dinner table at their children and see an opportunity.”

Previous attempts to outlaw political contributions by those younger than 18, including the U.S. Supreme Court’s McCain-Feingold decision in 2003, have been struck down as an unconstitutional infringement on the rights of minors.

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