Top 5 Best and Worst Moments of 2014 for Money in Politics and Voting Rights

Gavel resting on stack of money

This is not a Buzzfeed “Top 12 Cute Pumpkins” list, nor is it Letterman’s “Top Ten Last Days I Have on TV” list; it’s the Campaign Legal Center’s Top 5 Wins and Top 5 Losses for Money in Politics and Voting Rights! It’s been an interesting year, with ups and downs, and we have highlighted the most important of each.


  1. Veasey v. Perry:  Texas federal court strikes down Texas’s discriminatory and burdensome photo ID law, with CLC attorneys serving as co-counsel to the lead Veasey-LULAC plaintiffs.
  2. Van Hollen v. FEC: DC federal court strikes down FEC’s regulation that created a dark money loophole by narrowing the electioneering communication disclosure provisions, with CLC attorneys serving as part of Rep. Van Hollen’s legal team.
  3. Vermont Right to Life Committee v. Sorrell: Applying the Supreme Court’s rationale in Citizens United regarding “independence” and “coordination,” the Second Circuit Court of Appeals rejected VRLC’s argument that the state contribution limits should not apply to its sister committee allegedly making independent expenditures. After careful analysis, the court determined that the “independent” committee was functionally indistinguishable from VRLC and that the committee’s expenditures were not in fact independent. CLC participated asamicus curiae urging this result.
  4. Other important court victories for disclosure of political spending, with CLC participating in the litigation: Independence Institute v. FECIndependence Institute v. Gessler and Justice v. Hosemann.
  5. FCC launches online political file rulemaking: In response to a petition by CLC and other watchdog groups, the FCC launched a rulemaking to expand online political file requirements for cable satellite and radio.


  1. SCOTUS strikes down federal aggregate contribution limits in McCutcheon v. FEC: In doing so, the Court opened the door for further corruption by permitting wealthy donors to give millions to new super joint fundraising committees—mega contributions that will be solicited by Members of Congress.
  2. 5th Circuit stay of district court’s Veasey v. Perry decision and SCOTUS decision not to vacate stay (see # 1 in best category above).
  3. Repeal of nominating convention public funding by Congress.
  4. CRomnibus negotiators from both parties surreptitiously tack on an eleventh-hour rider—drafted by political party insiders and hidden from public view—that obliterates the political party contribution limit and allows wealthy donors to give more than $1.5 million dollars per two-year election cycle to their party of choice.
  5. District court order in O’Keefe v. Chisholm narrowing the definition of coordination to reach only express advocacy and ordering prosecutors to destroy evidence in a long-running state investigation into Governor Scott Walker’s recall campaign.