RNC Court Challenge to Aggregate Contribution Limits Opposed by Reformers


Today, the Campaign Legal Center, together with Democracy 21, filed an amici brief in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to defend the aggregate contribution limits against a challenge brought by the Republican National Committee (RNC) and Shaun McCutcheon.  Despite clear Supreme Court precedent upholding aggregate contribution limits, plaintiffs in McCutcheon v. FEC challenge both the $70,800 aggregate limit on contributions to non-candidate committees and the $46,200 aggregate limit on contributions to candidate committees in a two-year election cycle.

“In the Supreme Court decision in Buckley v. Valeo, the Court explicitly held that an aggregate limit is constitutional, yet this suit asks the court to ignore settled precedent and allow individuals to give seven-figure sums to buy influence in Washington every election cycle,” said Tara Malloy, Campaign Legal Center Senior Counsel.  “To argue that allowing millions of dollars of contributions to candidate and party committees – money that could be funneled back in to the campaigns of particular candidates – would not lead to corruption or the appearance of corruption is laughable.  This suit is yet another baseless challenge in the wave of litigation targeting campaign finance and disclosure laws around the country.”

“The RNC with this lawsuit is attempting to eviscerate the existing federal contribution limits and prohibition on federal officeholders soliciting huge contributions,” said Democracy 21 President Fred Wertheimer. “These provisions were enacted by Congress and upheld as constitutional by the Supreme Court in order to prevent the corruption of federal officeholders and government decisions. Million-dollar contributions solicited by federal officeholders and laundered through political parties to support the officeholders who solicited the money, which the RNC lawsuit would allow, would re-create the system of legalized bribery that Congress has ended with laws upheld by the Supreme Court.”

The Campaign Legal Center, along with Democracy 21, previously filed comments opposing an Advisory Opinion Request (AOR 2012-14) filed by plaintiff McCutcheon with the Federal Election Commission (FEC), in which he asked the agency to permit him to make contributions exceeding the aggregate contribution limits.  McCutcheon filed his current lawsuit after the FEC issued an advisory opinion consistent with the comments filed by the Campaign Legal Center and Democracy 21, which argued that federal campaign finance law prohibited him from making contributions to federal candidates in excess of the aggregate limits in the 2011-2012 election cycle.

To read the brief filed today with the three-judge panel, click here.  

To read the full FEC Advisory Opinion, click here.