U.S. Surpreme Court

SCOTUS campaign finance ruling likely to increase clout of party officials


The U.S. Supreme Court ruling on Wednesday striking down federal aggregate campaign contribution limits will likely increase clout of party officials and millionaire donors.

That’s the conclusion of a news analysis by the New York Times, which says the ruling would allow party leaders to form joint fund-raising committees and solicit millions of dollars for candidates. The newspaper offers this example: House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., could theoretically ask a donor for $2.3 million—$5,200 for every Democratic candidate in every House race, along with a donation to the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.

The Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission struck down aggregate limits on direct contributions from individuals to federal political candidates and committees. For the 2013-14 election cycle, the aggregate limits allowed individuals to contribute a total of $48,600 to federal candidates and a total of $74,600 to other political committees.

“The ruling offers a path for party officials to re-establish themselves as kingmakers,” the Times says. “And because senior congressional leaders often have the closest ties to big donors, the decision could give them a tool with which to discipline rank-and-file members.”

Also benefiting are major donors, who will be able to contribute the maximum amount allowed to every candidate, police action committee and party committee in the country, the story says. A donor who contributed $5,000 to every registered political action committee would spend $13 million.

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