Supreme Court Ruling Gives Small Number of Wealthy Donors New Ways to Drive Campaigns

April 2, 2014 | | Washington Post |

An elite class of wealthy donors who have gained mounting influence in campaigns now has the ability to exert even greater sway.

A Supreme Court decision Wednesday to do away with an overall limit on how much individuals can give candidates and political parties opens a new spigot for money to flow into ­campaigns already buffeted by huge spending from independent groups. [...]

In its ruling Wednesday, the court declared unconstitutional a total limit on how much an individual can give federal candidates and parties in a two-year cycle. That limit had been set at $123,200 for this cycle. (The base limits on contributions — $5,200 to a candidate for the cycle — remain untouched.)

If the overall limits had been lifted for the 2012 campaign, about 1,200 wealthy donors who hit or came close to the limit on giving to candidates and party committees could have poured an additional $304 million into federal political committees, according to an analysis by the liberal groups Demos and U.S. PIRG.

That nearly equals the $313 million that 4 million small donors gave to the campaigns of President Obama and GOP challenger Mitt Romney that cycle.

Read the report: McCutcheon Money: The Projected Impact of Striking Aggregate Contribution Limits