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Today the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in McCutcheon v. FEC to strike down overall, or aggregate, contribution limits to candidates and political committees. U.S. PIRG research found that this ruling could bring $1 billion in additional campaign contributions from fewer than 2,800 elite donors through the 2020 election cycle.
“In Citizens United the Supreme Court handed a giant megaphone to the wealthiest interests, and now with their ruling in McCutcheon, they’ve turned up the volume even higher,” said Dev Gowda, Advocate at Illinois PIRG.
In the case, Alabama donor Shaun McCutcheon asked the Court to strike down the overall limit on what an individual can give to federal candidates, parties, and PACs in a two-year election cycle. That limit stood at $123,200 – over twice the average household income in the U.S. In 2012, only 1,219 donors came within 10% of hitting the aggregate limit. Research from U.S. PIRG and Demos projects that now that the aggregate limit has been struck down, this same set of 1,219 donors will more triple their gifts to $459.3 million.
The Supreme Court has never before struck down a federal contribution limit, maintaining that these limits are constitutional because they prevent corruption and the appearance of corruption.
“The last thing we need right now is to increase the giving of the donors with the deepest pockets,” concluded Gowda. “It’s time to amend the Constitution to overturn the Court’s wrong-headed decisions permitting a handful of millionaires and corporate interests to dominate our elections.”
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