Report: Reclaiming Our Democracy

"McCutcheon" Could Add Over $1 Billion in Contributions to Next Four Elections

McCutcheon v. FEC Could Significantly Increase the Giving of a Small Handful of Donors
Released by: U.S. PIRG, Demos

This term, the Supreme Court is considering a challenge to aggregate contribution limits in a case called McCutcheon v. FEC. The current limit on what one person may contribute to all federal candidates, parties and PACs is $123,200. Absent this limit, one wealthy donor would be permitted to contribute more than $3.5 million to a single party’s candidates and party committees (plus a virtually unlimited amount to supportive PACs).

Under current case law, the Supreme Court should uphold aggregate contribution limits as a decades-old protection against corruption, the appearance of corruption, and circumvention of base contribution limits.

But the Roberts Court has been willing to toss precedent aside to gut campaign finance laws in the past. So it’s worth asking, what would be the practical effect if the Court strikes a federal contribution limit for the first time?

Elizabeth Ridlington and Miles Unterreiner of Frontier Group and Robert Hiltonsmith of Demos helped with data analysis for this report.

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