Super-Rich Campaign Donors Look Forward to “Citizens United 2” Supreme Court Case

Monday, October 07, 2013
Shaun McCutcheon

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case on Tuesday that could give the super-rich considerable influence in future elections.


Dubbed “Citizens United 2” after the landmark 2010 case (pdf) that threw out limits on corporate spending on campaigns, the case of McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission will focus on the cap that one person may contribute during a two-year election cycle to federal candidates, political parties and committees.


That limit is currently set at $123,200, including a $48,600 ceiling on total candidate contributions.


But Alabama businessman and billionaire Shaun McCutcheon contends that the limit is unconstitutional, and many observers expect a majority of Supreme Court justices to agree with the plaintiff.


If the limit is removed, many of the wealthiest people in the country will be able to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on races.


“These truly elite donors are poised to be the big winners,” Lee Drutman wrote for the Sunlight Foundation, a government watchdog group.


Drutman says the two political parties will likely court about a thousand super-rich donors who gave at least $134,300 0f their own money in 2012, which will give these individuals “a unique ability to set and limit the party agendas.” Two-thirds of these donors are Republicans.


“Lifting aggregate caps will take an incredibly incredibly unequal system of campaign finance and turn it into an incredibly incredibly incredibly incredibly unequal system,” he adds.


McCutcheon, chief executive of an electrical engineering firm and supporter of Tea Party candidates, told The Washington Post he just wants the “freedom” to spend his considerable wealth on elections.


“I’m just another political activist trying to change the world,” he says.

-Noel Brinkerhoff


To Learn More:

The 1,000 Donors Most Likely to Benefit from McCutcheon — and What They Are Most Likely to Do (by Lee Drutman, Sunlight Foundation)

Supreme Court Case Could Give Wealthy Donors More Latitude in Elections (by Robert Barnes and Matea Gold, Washington Post)

Citizens United 2: Supreme Court to Rule on Campaign Contributions Limits (by Noel Brinkerhoff and Danny Biederman, AllGov)


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