Presidential candidates from both parties are going to solicit six and seven-figure contributions directly from donors for the first time in a decade, thanks to looser campaign finance rules enacted by the Supreme Court and Congress in recent years. Both parties are pushing wealthy donors to give more than $1 million for the 2016 presidential campaign, according to The Washington Post. Their efforts mark the first $1 million party campaign solicitations since the 2002 McCain-Feingold Act banned individual donors from making “soft money” donations — or unlimited contributions to political parties — in an effort to curtail opportunities for corruption. (Corporations are still banned from making “soft money” donations to parties.) The Supreme Court upheld this ban in 2003. Yet thanks to another Supreme Court ruling a decade later, as well as a congressional decision in 2014 to increase party contribution limits, Hillary Clinton’s campaign will now be able to ask single donors to contribute approximately $1.3 million over the two-year 2016 election cycle — and could potentially raise more. Her Republican rivals could follow her lead.
“We’re watching the destruction of the contribution limits, whose principal purpose was to prevent corruption,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of the campaign finance reform group Democracy 21. “So, if you destroy the rules that prevent corruption, you’re going to end up with widespread corruption in Washington.”
The massive contributions that parties and their presidential candidates now hope to solicit are exactly what campaign finance reform proponents like Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center warned the Supreme Court about two years ago.
In the 2013 McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission case, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that limiting aggregate campaign contributions for political parties and candidates to $123,000 in a two-year election cycle violated the free speech rights of wealthy donors.