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“Most Likely To Exceed”: The Supreme Court’s Cash Gift To Republican Candidates

The instant the Supreme Court demolished overall donation limits in April, the money burst forth from the dam. As The Washington Post reported this morning, more than 300 donors immediately wrote checks beyond the old limit of $123,200, adding $11.6 million to the political system that would not have been allowed earlier.

And unsurprisingly, twice as much of that money went to Republican candidates and their committees than to Democrats.

Before the court’s McCutcheon decision, in a two-year election cycle donors could not give more than $48,600 to candidates and $74,600 to parties and political committees. The original idea of the limit was to make sure that donors could not spread so much cash around to a party and its candidates as to become indispensible to an entire wing of American politics.

The court’s ruling, continuing in its absurd line of reasoning that such limits violate the First Amendment, effectively raised the overall limits to $3.6 million per election cycle, and many donors seem determined to approach that ugly new milestone.

One donor told The Post that he has given to 39 political action committees, 25 Senate candidates and 16 House candidates just this year.

Another, in an admission of charming if depressing naïveté, explained why he has given $177,000 to Republican congressional candidates in the last few months. “You have to realize, when you start contributing to all these guys, they give you access to meet them and talk about your issues,” said the donor, Andrew Sabin of New York, who owns a precious-metals refining business. “They know that I’m a big supporter.” Already, he boasted, he has received personal visits from Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Gov. Rick Scott of Florida.

The candidates know which donors are most likely to exceed the old limits — some of them have familiar names like Adelson, Koch, and Soros — and are hitting them up hard, undoubtedly listening in earnest to whatever interests the donors have in Washington.

Small donors have no place in this intimate relationship. And yet, as an article in The Times this morning pointed out, they could have a much larger role if only they weren’t drowned out by the big guys. Last year’s New York City mayoral election, the first since 1997 without a self-financed billionaire on the ticket, was “the most wide-open” city election since the public financing system began 25 years ago. The system provides a matching incentive for candidates to raise small donations, which significantly increased the level of competition in city races last year.

Similar systems have been rejected in Albany and in Washington, largely by Republicans. Looking at the numbers, it’s easy to see why.

 

By: David Firestone, Taking Note, The Editorial Page Editors Blog, The New York Times, September 2, 2014

September 3, 2014 - Posted by | Campaign Financing, Politics, Supreme Court | , , , , , , ,

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