Removing the limits on total campaign contributions by a single donor, a restriction now before the Supreme Court, would lead to a huge increase in giving by a small group of very wealthy Americans, according to a new report released Friday.
The aggregate limits, which restrict individual donors to giving no more than $123,200 in the 2014 election cycle, are being challenged in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, set to be argued before the high court on Oct. 8. The case was brought by Alabama company owner Shaun McCutcheon and joined by the Republican National Committee. McCutcheon argues that the aggregate limits are an unconstitutional restriction of his First Amendment right to support as many candidates as he would like as much as he would like.
The report released by the progressive groups Demos and U.S. PIRG predicts that the elimination of these limits would lead to an estimated $1 billion increase in giving over the next seven years by the top 1,219 campaign donors from the 2012 election. This increase would push political campaigns into relying more heavily on the biggest donors than they do know and reduce even further the influence of small donors.
"If the court does decide to throw out precedent and side with the plaintiffs, it would make this problem significantly worse," Blair Bowie, democracy advocate at U.S. PIRG, said in a conference call to announce the report.