Federal Politics

Published — April 4, 2014 Updated — May 19, 2014 at 12:19 pm ET

More than a dozen states could throw out donation caps after McCutcheon ruling

Repeal laws ‘or be sued’ conservative lawyer Jim Bopp says

Introduction

States from Wyoming to Maine are surveying the fallout from the U.S. Supreme Court’s high-stakes campaign finance decision this week in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, which held that the federal government cannot prevent wealthy individuals from donating a limited amount of money to an unlimited number of candidates.

At least eight states — and possibly as many as 20 — could see similar laws overturned, depending on how regulators, government officials and judges interpret the McCutcheon ruling.

Conservative attorney Jim Bopp, who has been fighting campaign finance regulations for decades, told the Center for Public Integrity that states either need to repeal their existing aggregate limits on campaign contributions “or they’ll be sued.”

“We are challenging some of them already,” he said.

Connecticut, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin, Wyoming and the District of Columbia all currently have laws on the books that are similar to the one struck down by the Supreme Court in McCutcheon, according to lawyers and the National Conference of State Legislatures.

On Wednesday, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 to strike down aggregate contribution limits to candidates and parties but kept base limits intact. Thus, at the federal level, a donor may still only give no more than $2,600 to a candidate per election, no more than $5,000 per year to a single PAC and no more than $32,400 to a national party committee. But there is no longer a limit on how many candidates, party committees or PACs a single donor can financially support.

Hours after the McCutcheon ruling came down, Massachusetts’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance announced it would “no longer enforce the $12,500 aggregate limit on the amount that an individual may contribute to all candidates.”

Spokesman Jason Tait said Massachusetts officials were also reviewing the current $5,000 aggregate limit that individuals may contribute to party committees.

Meanwhile, Jared DeMarinis, director of the Maryland Board of Elections’ candidacy and campaign finance division, told the Center for Public Integrity that the agency will be issuing new guidance “as soon as possible,” adding that “we won’t be waiting for a court case to see if the law is enforceable.”

Such rapid action, however, may not ensue in other places.

“We would have to wait for the legislature to make changes, unless a court ruled differently,” said Peggy Nighswonger, Wyoming’s elections director.

She added that lawmakers aren’t scheduled to reconvene until January 2015.

New York Board of Elections spokesman Tom Connolly said he didn’t know if legislators would “be proactive” about passing a new law, adding that any kind of action “might be the result of a lawsuit.”

Officials in Connecticut, Maine, New York, Rhode Island, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C., also said they were reviewing the Supreme Court’s decision.

But these states aren’t the only ones that could be affected by the McCutcheon ruling.

Indiana, for instance, imposes aggregate limits on the political contributions of corporations and labor unions.

Louisiana limits contributors from giving more than $100,000 to non-candidate committees during a four-year election cycle.

Washington limits how much money an individual can give party committees and political action committees during the final 21 days of a general election.

Alaska restricts the percentage of money that can be raised from out-of-state donors.

Additionally, other states — such as Kentucky and Minnesota — limit the amount of money a candidate can raise collectively from party committees or PACs.

Bopp also sees these laws as ripe for legal challenges.

“Whether the punishment is on the receiver or the donor, it has the same effect,” Bopp said.

“It’s an aggregate limit that’s unconstitutional,” he continued. “Why would you doubt it?”

But others — including many state campaign regulators themselves — are not yet convinced their rules are unconstitutional.

“I don’t see McCutcheon directly affecting Minnesota at all,” said Gary Goldsmith, executive director of the state’s campaign finance and public disclosure board.

Goldsmith said he would not characterize Minnesota’s law — which limits the combined amount of money a single candidate can receive from all political committees, lobbyists and large-dollar campaign donors — as a “close relation” to the federal law overturned by McCutcheon.

And Sarah Jackson, executive director of Kentucky’s Registry of Election Finance, said that “there doesn’t seem to be anything immediate that needs to be done.”

“We don’t have a law that’s exactly like what was struck down,” she continued.

Kentucky’s rules prohibit candidates from collecting more than 50 percent of their campaign funds from party committees, or from collecting more than 50 percent of their campaign money from PACs.

Likewise, Paul S. Ryan, an attorney at the Campaign Legal Center — which encourages the government to implement campaign finance reform measures — said state caps on what percentage of money candidates collect from political parties or from PACs may not be “automatically invalid.”

Nevertheless, he also issued a stark admonition.

“I wouldn’t consider any campaign finance law safe with this Supreme Court.”

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SOUTH JERSEYTed SiroisMark SullivanTom LarkinAnonymous Recent comment authors
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Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Trump needs to conduct these activities because the entire MSM media, excluding Fox, is campaigning against him 24/7/365.

Didn’t Monica’s boyfriend’s wife and various criminal enterprises outspend Trump by almost 2-1?

CapitalistRoader
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CapitalistRoader

Why wouldn’t he get an early start on fund raising? Hillary outspent him two-to-one in 2016. The Dem’s are the party of big money. The President knows this and is attempting to get a jump on it. Of course the Dem candidate will outspend him in 2020 so it’s only rational that he starts fund raising now.

George Young
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George Young

Oh brother. We just 8 years of the Campaigner – in – Chief. Where was this journalistic rectal thermometer then. Just another article about 2000 words too long that merely takes another slap at Trump for something he far from initiated.

j stevenson
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j stevenson

The big difference between Trump and all the rest is his refusing to accept funds from lobbyists, so they don’t have the White House access they are used to. These are the donors who buy the presidency and are as pixxed off that he won the election as are the media and the Dems. Lobbyists have never been shut out of the WH and Trump has told them he is not for sale.

jan v
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jan v

all the lobbyists are running all our government agencies and all the career civil servants who know how to run the country have been fired. YOU think this is a good thing ? what a crock…

thomas alessi
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thomas alessi

I am for Trump

Anonymous
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Anonymous

Trump needs to be impeached and tossed in prison. Then have the key thrown away so he will never be free. Then he can see how it feels not to have freedom.

Mark Sullivan
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Mark Sullivan

Thank you for the usual insightful leftist low IQ Snowflake response.

barney
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hes not imprisoning them hes sending them back to their country chill tf out

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

WHY DONT YOU HAVE FREEDOM?

Tom Larkin
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Tom Larkin

First, something positive. I was happy to learn of empirical information in article. BUT, the article was so slanted against President Trump as to be deemed fake news (“Perhaps Trump just lied.” (Two different issues)). The article mentions that President Trump raised over $67 million, but ended 2018 with $19 million. President Trump spent over $40 million 2016 and 2017. President Trump conducted 57 political rallies. The article notes the hats and T-shirts sold, but NEVER MENTIONS THE INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF REPUBLICAN SENATORS during a mid-term election that lost the House and the number of political rallies in… Read more »

Ted Sirois
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Ted Sirois

At least Trump is getting donations from willing donors. Fresh from his first election, Obama used billions of our children’s tax dollars to save thousands of union jobs in the car industry and bailed out the banks and many Wall Street businesses. This secured his source of reelection funds for his reelection four years later.

South Jersey
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South Jersey

TRUMP 2020; IS AN AMAZINGLY SMART MAN! VERY ORIGINAL & CREATIVE. I AM HAPPY TO HAVE HIS AS POTUS.

SOUTH JERSEY
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SOUTH JERSEY

THIS ARTICLE WAS OBVIOUSLY WRITTEN BY, A TRUMP-HATE-GROUP. THAT FEELS; IT IS NOT NORMAL TO BE SUCCESSFUL WITH YOUR OWN BRAND NAME. WHEN, IF FACT, IT IS NORMAL! >>>>> THIS IS >>> FAKE NEWS!!! <<<< ie: A PACK-OF-LIES; SPUN INTO; DEFAMATION OF CHARACTER. FOR A SINISTER-AGENDA OF; FASCIST DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST, COUP D'ETAT

David
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David

Are you on some kind of drugs? Writing in caps makes me think that you are grumpy old fart or a uneducated hillbilly.