The case for eliminating contribution limits

The case for eliminating contribution limits

All eyes should be on the Supreme Court this October when they hear McCutcheon v. FEC.

While not quite as exciting as the upcoming cast reunion of the “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” the question presented before the Court could help federal party committees better compete with super PACs by allowing them to raise thousands more in contributions by eliminating the aggregate contribution limits that are now in place. 

Should they be eliminated? I wholeheartedly say yes.

The case has the capacity to change the game of how we raise money for the better and, frankly, it’s what Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform should have had the guts to do in the first place. By limiting the aggregate amounts an individual can give, we’re limiting an individual’s right of expression by making a donor pick and choose the races in which she can play.

If these aggregate limits are lifted, there will still be contribution limits to candidates and committees, but the rights of the individual will not be stifled. Therefore, the playing field will be much more fair.

For example, right now if I am a donor and I want to give the maximum contribution to the national committees, I am limited to a contribution of $32,400 per year. If I decide I want to contribute the entire amount to the Republican National Committee, I am thereby prohibited from giving any more money to either the National Republican Senatorial Committee or National Republican Congressional Committee.

Moreover, I’m limited in what I may contribute to PACs and to individual candidates, and have to make very selective decisions regarding these contributions.

And the truth is that most donors are not educated on these aggregate limits and in presidential years quite a few get dangerously close to their caps and some go over. And in the heat of these races and fundraising, if the committee’s counsel or the individual donors are not paying attention, donors can get into big trouble if they go over their limits and pay big fines. They could also do jail time.

There are those on the left who would like to see a public financing system for campaigns to level the playing field. If the federal government was rolling in dough or you could sell that to the American people, be my guest. But in my humble opinion, if you can’t fund a healthcare system, good luck funding a public financing system for candidates.

If the Court rules in favor of Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama Republican, and the RNC by lifting the aggregate donor contribution limits, this would open up a whole new world of fundraising and would go a long way to putting the national political parties back into the rightful place at the head of the table. And it would once again give individuals the right to contribute to whomever they want within the “individual” contribution limits. Big difference.

Ann is the president of The Woods Herberger Group where her primary fundraising focus has been on the Bush family, specifically raising money for Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Ann has also served as a fundraising consultant to the RNC, RGA, NRSC and NRCC. She resides in Miami, Florida.

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