The Supreme Court argument in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission on aggregate limits on campaign donations was odd, to say the least. Justices who were inclined to uphold the limit seemed to agree that the limits on what an individual can give to all candidates and the national and state parties collectively is there to prevent a few billionaires from controlling elections. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, asked, “Is there any information on what percentage of all contributors are able to contribute over the aggregate?” Justice Elena Kagan later echoed this concern: “Now, having written a check for $3.5 million to a single party’s candidates, are you suggesting that that party and the members of that party are not going to owe me anything, that I won’t get any special treatment?” The solicitor general asserted the same: “Aggregate limits combat corruption both by blocking circumvention of individual contribution limits and, equally fundamentally, by serving as a bulwark against a campaign finance system dominated by massive individual contributions in which the dangers of quid pro quo corruption would be obvious and inherent and the corrosive appearance of corruption would be overwhelming.”
Wait a minute. Have these people never heard of Sheldon Adelson, Foster Friess, George Soros or the Koch brothers? It is the current system – through massive giving to political action committees (PACs) that is dominated by a few wealthy individuals — that creates the appearance of corruption. Had Newt Gingrich been elected president, is there any doubt there would be the appearance that he owed Adelson a lot?
It was up to Justice Scalia to introduce some reality into the proceedings: “I mean, if gratitude is corruption, you know, don’t those independent expenditures evoke gratitude? And is, is not the evil of big money — 3.2 million, an individual can give that to an independent PAC and spend it, right?”
Full Article: An upside-down campaign finance system.