Heard in D.C.: McCutcheon, et al. v. FEC

WHEN  NOT DISCUSSING Bob Woodward, some in the beltway have entertained how a ruling for the plaintiffs in McCutcheon, et al. v. FEC (see last post) would affect campaign finance.  Paradoxically, lobbyists have premonitions about such a scenario, hinting that it would erode rather than enhance their leverage.  Here’s a flavor of some of the early chatter:

“I like the limit because it gives me an excuse not to give more. If there was no limit, I would give more. Not $100,000 more, but more like $40,000 or $50,000 more.” – Republican lobbyist (The Hill)

“The ceiling is helpful to fend off entreaties from candidates who need more money. If the limits were invalidated, it could create a real problem….I had a friend who would max out very early in the cycle — give away all his money in the first two months — so he could say, ‘you’re too late,’ to the candidates.” – Tony Podesta, Founder & Chairman of Podesta Group (The Hill)

“If the limit is eliminated, I think you will see a proliferation of joint fundraising committees. The members who are good fundraisers and politically savvy will offer their less successful colleagues a chance to tap the ‘star power’ and reach into the lead member’s donor base.” -Pat Raffaniello, a principal in Raffaniello & Associates (The Hill)

“And because lobbyists do tend to support parties, getting rid of the cap could give political parties more power to compete with super PACs, which can accept unlimited corporate contributions. Without an overall spending cap, in theory any donor could give the maximum permissible $32,400 to a number of parties or even max out to every congressional or presidential candidate.” – Janie Boschma (OpenSecrets blog)

“In a rational universe, candidates and political parties would be more central to our system. They are the most accountable and the most transparent. The candidate is the one going into office, not the super PAC.” – Jim Bopp Jr., conservative lawyer and plaintiff. (The Washington Post)

“[I]f the court changes the standard of review to a stricter review for contribution limits, it could have a ripple effect and ultimately threaten the constitutionality of other limits, like the $2,600 individual limit.” – Rick Hasen, Chancellor’s Professor of Law and Political Science, the University of California, Irvine (Campaigns & Elections)

“Dismantling the federal limit also could cast into doubt on state laws around the country. In New York, for instance, an individual cannot contribute more than $150,000 to candidates and political committees in the Empire State.” Fredreka Schouten (USA TODAY)

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