The Supreme Court is set to hear the most important campaign finance case since Citizen's United. McCutcheon v. FEC, scheduled for argument on Tuesday, has huge implications for the fight to limit the corrupting influence of money in our political system.
The case centers on the aggregate limit on contributions to candidates -- the total amount a single donor can give to candidates and parties during a single election cycle. In the 1976 case of Buckley v. Valeo, the court ruled that unlimited donations represent a clear danger to democracy and an opening for corruption. A limit on total donations during a two-year election cycle was declared necessary and constitutional.
Where Citizens United opened the floodgates for cash from outside and supposedly independent groups to be used in elections, the McCutcheon case could allow candidates to solicit and donors to write significantly larger checks that would go directly to elected officials. How much larger? As Common Cause's Stephen Spaulding noted in a recent op-ed in The Hill, the plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, is asking the court to allow donations of up to $3.6 million to candidates and party committees, up from the current limit of $123,000.
The case is particularly worrisome because it gives this Supreme Court, which took such an anti-democratic stand in Citizens United just three years ago, a new opportunity to rule in favor of the wealthy few at the expense of the American electorate. And while the case is not about the limit on gifts to a single candidate, the law gives candidates a way around that limit. "Joint fundraising committees" formed by candidates in conjunction with their party, will be able to accept a single large donation on behalf of all involved and then funnel the money to a single candidate or small group.
There should no doubt that a $3.6 million check can unduly influence plenty of officeholders. All Americans, not just those who can afford to purchase influence, deserve to have their voices heard.
What can you do?
Get informed! Common Cause will host two phone briefings today (Monday, Oct. 7th) at 3PM and 9PM ET to inform our supporters across the nation about the significance and potential implications of the McCutcheon case. Listen in and learn about how this decision is crucial in our fight against the corrupting influence of money in politics. Read about how Common Cause is working for you on this important issue.
Have your voice heard! Are you in the DC area? If so, please join us for a Money vs. The People rally on the steps of the Supreme Court building on Tuesday at 9:30 AM. Along with our coalition partners, we hope to bring out a crowd of folks to show Shaun McCutcheon and all those seeking to buy influence that our voices cannot be drowned out.
It's important to be informed and make sure everyone knows what is at stake. Tell your friends and family why they should care about this issue, regardless of their political leanings. This is not a red issue or a blue issue - it's an American issue. And remember to let your representatives know how you feel - call your legislators and tell them to take a strong stance in pushing to get rid of the corrupting influence of money in our political system.
Office: Common Cause National
Issues: Money in Politics