Supreme Court case could add over $1 billion in contributions from large donors over next four election cycles
MONTPELIER – The U.S. Supreme Court is hearing oral arguments today in McCutcheon v. FEC and Vermonters are paying attention. Advocates, including the Vermont Public Interest Research Group (VPIRG), say the case would further increase the electoral clout of a few large donors.
In the case, Alabama donor Shaun McCutcheon is asking the Court to strike down the overall limit on what an individual can give to federal candidates, parties, and PACs in a two year election cycle. That limit currently stands at $123,200 – over twice the average household income in the U.S. In 2012, only 1,219 donors came within 10% of hitting the aggregate limit. New research from U.S. PIRG and Demos projects that if the limit is lifted, this small set of donors would raise their giving and inject an additional $1 billion in campaign contributions through the 2020 elections.
In Vermont, campaign finance reform legislation passed by the House and Senate earlier this year – and now in a conference committee – could establish an aggregate limit on contributions to state candidates, parties and PACs, but only if the Supreme Court declares such limits to be constitutional.
The Supreme Court has never struck down a federal contribution limit, maintaining that these limits are constitutional because they prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption. VPIRG and other reform groups across the country argue that right now, when confidence in Congress is at an all time low, it would be extremely unwise to toss aside that precedent.
“The voices of working Americans are in danger of being drowned out by a small group of super-rich political donors who were already handed a megaphone by the Supreme Court in the Citizens United case. Now the Court will consider turning up the volume even higher,” said Paul Burns, executive director of VPIRG. “The last thing we need right now is to increase the political influence of donors with the deepest pockets. Instead, we should be empowering small donors so that ordinary Americans can provide the funds needed to run campaigns.”
New York Times editorial: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/08/opinion/politicians-for-sale.html?hp&_r=1&