FEC Invites More Influence Buying in Washington – Approves Request to Double Limits on Contributions to RNC & DNC
Today, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) ignored the laws passed by Congress in order to provide wealthy individuals a way to double the amount they can contribute to the national political parties. Vice Chair Ann Ravel joined with Republican Commissioners to greenlight the gutting of existing federal limits on contributions to national political parties established in the wake of Watergate. A single individual can now give more than $250,000 to either the RNC or the DNC each presidential cycle.
Yesterday, the Campaign Legal Center, joined by Democracy 21, strongly urged the FEC to reject the request from the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Democratic National Committee (DNC) seeking to undermine the existing federal limits on contributions to national political parties established in the wake of Watergate. The watchdog groups filed comments on the FEC’s draft responses to Advisory Opinion Request 2014-12, where the national party committees seek permission to raise funds for party conventions under a separate contribution limit.
“This is a disgraceful and activist decision that ignores the laws passed by Congress to combat corruption,” said Larry Noble, of the Campaign Legal Center. “One has come to expect such efforts to dismantle the current contribution limits brick by brick from the current Republican Commissioners, but Vice Chair Ravel’s vote to give the national party committees a new way to tap wealthy donors is incredibly disappointing and irresponsible. It is even more egregious in light of the Supreme Court’s recent decision striking down the aggregate limit on what an individual can give to all party committees. As of today, an individual can give more than a quarter million dollars to the RNC or the DNC each presidential election cycle. Perhaps the Vice Chair should have done her public listening tourbefore ripping up federal law because I don’t think the public is going to tell her that it wants her to give wealthy donors additional avenues to buy still more influence in Washington.”
In response to the Advisory Opinion Request filed by the RNC and the DNC, the FEC had produced two alternative draft advisory opinions. The comments filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21 strongly supported Draft A which concluded that raising convention funds under a separate limit is clearly prohibited by federal statute and under existing FEC regulations. The comments strongly condemned Draft B’s assertion that convention committees can be considered separate “national committees” with their own contribution limits on the basis that this view is not only contrary to the law, but is based on misrepresentations of previous rulings by the FEC. The comments went on to warn that such an advisory opinion from the FEC would lead to a proliferation of ‘separate’ national committees that could be utilized to skirt existing contribution limits on a massive scale.
The RNC and DNC Advisory Opinion Request was filed after repealing the federal funding for national party conventions that had been in place for more than four decades. Democratic Commissioners Ellen Weintraub and Steven Walther voted against the new limit.
To read the comments filed yesterday by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, click here.