What Does The McCutcheon Ruling Mean For New York? (Updated X2)
Good-government advocates fear this morning Supreme Court ruling could have wide-reaching effects for New York’s own aggregate limits on campaign contributions in a given election cycle.
The U.S. Supreme Court in a 5-4 decision struck down a cap on overall contributions limits of $48,600 by individuals to candidates for federal office. At the same time, the court ruled the $74,600 cap to political party committees also violated the First Amendment.
For supporters of public financing in New York, the concern is that the case, McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, could be imposed on New York should its aggregate limits be challenged.
And indeed, the successful challenger in the case is already involved in New York politics.
As Jessica Alaimo at Capital notes, Shaun McCutcheon was the Alabama-based Republican activist who in 2013 challenged New York’s cap on independent expenditure campaign committees, which ultimately paved the way for a super PAC fueled by David Koch to support Republican mayoral candidate Joe Lhota.
Right now, the state caps election-cycle contribution limits at $150,000 for an individual donor in a calendar year and $5,000 for corporations.
“It is unclear whether this decision will be applied to incorporated entities, but if future decisions decide this is the case, a massive new loophole will be added to New York’s election regulations,” said NYPIRG analyst Bill Mahoney. “The candidate and party receipt limits for corporations are the same as those for individuals.”
Of course, there are ways around these caps, ranging from the so-called LLC loophole to donating unlimited amounts of money to a “housekeeping committee.”
Still, supporters of public financing believe today’s ruling bolsters their case for a statewide system.
The $138 billion budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year applies a public financing system, but only for the state comptroller’s race.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has pointed out the votes aren’t available in the Senate to support a public financing system, with opposition coming principally from Senate Republicans.
“The Governor and Legislature must immediately act to establish reasonable receipt limits on corporations, including incorporated labor unions,” Mahoney said. “They must establish a system of public financing designed to motivate the participation of small donors.”
Updated: Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said in a statement he is “deeply disappointed” by the Supreme Court decision striking down the contribution limits.
“The majority decision ignores both the Court’s own precedent and common sense regarding the corrupting influence of unlimited contributions to parties or candidates if they are spread across different committees,” Schneiderman said. “Campaign finance laws protect the integrity and fairness of elections and help ensure that everyone—not just the wealthy or powerful corporations—are represented in our system of government. Together with Citizens United, this decision guts our campaign finance system and opens the door to corruption by handing a small minority of wealthy individuals the power to exercise undue influence over our government.”
Updated X2: Assemblyman Bill Nojay in a statement applauded the decision, saying it could help create a “level playing field” for businesses to compete with organized labor in the state.
“As today’s Supreme Court decision filters down to state campaign finance rules, we’ll hopefully see a level playing field so businesses and their supporters can compete with the likes of SEIU, Acorn and the Working Families Party. That would be real campaign finance reform, instead of throwing tax dollars at politicians.”
|Print article||This entry was posted by Nick Reisman on April 2, 2014 at 3:06 pm, and is filed under Campaign Finance Reform. Follow any responses to this post through RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.|