The joint fundraising committee may join the super PAC and the “dark money” nonprofit as the new face of big money in politics if the Supreme Court decides to unravel key contribution limits in an upcoming case. A decision in favor of Shaun McCutcheon, the lead plaintiff in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, to be argued Oct. 8, could vastly increase the joint fundraising committee’s cash-gathering capacity. The justices will decide in McCutcheon whether the aggregate federal campaign contribution limits — $123,200 for a single donor in the 2014 election cycle — place an unconstitutional burden on a donor’s rights to free speech and association. In the absence of the aggregate limit, individual donors could donate to as many candidates, political party committees and political action committees as they saw fit.
“If the overall limits are struck down, we are going to see a return to federal elections of the huge contributions that existed prior to the Watergate campaign finance scandals and are going to see the system of legalized bribery recreated that existed prior to Watergate,” Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer said.
This is where joint fundraising committees come in. These committees act as a sort of accounting mechanism, often for presidential candidates and congressional leaders, to maximize campaign money. A donor can send a single large check to a joint fundraising committee, which the committee will then distribute among individual candidate committees, political party committees and even congressional leadership PACs. The process of gathering funds from big-money donors is significantly streamlined.