Friday, April 04, 2014

No Real Surprise Here

(Click on image to enlarge.)

That's a pretty apt cartoon by Ted Rall, as were the brief comments accompanying it on his blog:

The US Supreme Court has ruled to abolish overall caps on federal campaign contributions, bringing an end to most meaningful limits on the influence of money on Congress. Yeah, there‚Äôs going to be even more corruption. But think of the bright side: Congress can ask their sponsors for even more money! If nothing else, it will stimulate the economy. 

While equally concerned about the possible increase in political corruption, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times also reminded us that there are still some restraints on campaign donations:

On Wednesday, conservatives on the U.S. Supreme Court continued their project of undermining reasonable attempts by Congress to limit the corrupting influence of money in election campaigns. The same 5-4 majority that lifted limits on corporate political spending in the Citizens United decision struck down long-standing limits on the total amount a citizen can donate during an election cycle. As in Citizens United, the majority held that the restrictions violated 1st Amendment protections for political speech.

This decision does not disturb limits on how much a donor can give to a single candidate or committee (so-called base limits). Even so, it will open the floodgates for campaign donations by wealthy individuals. Before Wednesday's ruling, a single donor was barred from giving more than $123,200 in total to federal candidates and party and other political committees. Now a donor will be able to contribute the maximum to as many candidates and committees as he likes (the ceiling for donations to a candidate is $5,200). That sort of largesse will not be ignored.   [Emphasis added]

Furthermore, I do not see that this will in any way affect the federal and state rules on requiring candidates to report on campaign contributions on a regular basis.  Assuming that remains the case,  the electorate should still be able to glean some information on donors from places such as Open In fact, these good people have several posts up on the issues raised the Court's decision, including this one:

McCutcheon v. FEC, freeing individuals to give to an unlimited number of candidates, parties and PACs, could have a profound effect on this year's midterm elections.
The decision overturns the limits on how much individuals can contribute overall to federal candidates, parties and PACs during a two-year period. Until today, the aggregate limit stood at $123,200 -- no more than $48,600 to all candidates and $74,600 to all PACs and parties.
The opinion by Chief Justice John Roberts leaves in place the caps on how much can be given to each of those: $2,600 per election to each candidate, $32,400 per year to each national party committee, $10,000 per year to each state party and $5,000 per year to each federal PAC. But within these limits the totals can add up quickly.   [Emphasis added]

Look, what with the lobbying swinging door and the general ethics of entirely too many congress critters at present, I doubt that this decision will be the end of democracy as we know it, especially these days.  And, Pollyanna that I am, I also suspect that this will be the end of the machinations behind too many 501(c)4 groups.  Now that designation, no longer sullied by the corrupt, will refer to groups truly educating the populace.

And wouldn't that be nice.


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