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Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Freedom to spend your money

Is your freedom of speech your freedom to spend your own money? It is according to the Supreme Court. Last Wednesday, by a vote of 5-4, the court threw out the aggregate limit, currently $123,200, on what any individual can give to all federal candidates and political committees over a two-year election cycle.

The vote was split, with the conservative justices in the majority. “Those caps infringe on First Amendment free-speech rights,” Chief Justice John Roberts stated, “and aren’t justified by the public interest in fighting political corruption.”

In the 2012 election, both President Obama and Mitt Romney collected well over $1 billion in campaign contributions. Here in New York, on both the federal and state level, we are seeing millions of dollars being raised by individuals and interest groups to ensure political victories.

While the Supreme Court tossed out the aggregate limit on what one person can contribute, it left intact limits on how much an individual can give — $2,600 — to one candidate in each primary or general election.

This ruling is a game-changer for future elections. I believe more money will now flow to political committees and candidates, potentially opening the floodgates for groups such as the National Republican Congressional Committee, which is dedicated to increasing the current Republican majority in Congress.

The ruling will give Republicans an advantage in future elections. In the 2012 election cycle, 644 individuals donated the maximum amount allowed by law, and 60 percent of those contributions went to Republican candidates. In fact, it was the Republican plaintiff, Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman and party activist, who is now credited with moving the court to strike down aggregate campaign limits.

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