Millionaires’ Amendment should stand

The Supreme Court today hears arguments in a challenge to the so-called Millionaires’ Amendment of the landmark 2002 campaign finance reform law known as McCain-Feingold, which banned soft money to the national political parties. The Millionaires’ Amendment allows candidates for Congress to accept larger contributions than otherwise permitted if they are running against opponents who spend large amounts of personal wealth on the campaign, under certain circumstances.

The Millionaires’ Amendment, triggered when a US House candidate spends more than $350,000 of their personal funds on their campaign, is needed to prevent wealthy candidates from simply buying their election to office.

“We support the rights of candidates to receive special treatment if their opponent can afford to dump millions of dollars into their own campaign,” said Common Cause President Bob Edgar.

“Congress shouldn’t only be for the rich, and this provision helps level the playing field to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

There is ample evidence the Millionaires’ Amendment is needed now, more than ever.

During the 2006 election, the top 10 self-financed candidates spent more than $73 million on their own campaigns, up from $39 million in the 2002 election cycle, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. What’s more, the national political parties recruit wealthy candidates to run for office.

“The public is not served by Congress becoming even more of a Millionaires’ Club than it is today,” Edgar said. “This is a moderate step to help that not happen, and it should be upheld.”