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U.S. Supreme Court McCutcheon ruling on campaign financing concerns several groups


UNDATED (WSAU) -- The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Wednesday in the McCutcheon versus the Federal Election Commission means you can expect more big money than ever before in elections. That’s according to several critics, including Daniel Newman. Newman is the President and co-founder of MapLight, a nonpartisan research group that tracks money and its influence on politics.

Newman says the Supreme Court ruling means big donors really have no more limits, giving control of elections to the super-rich supporting candidates in both parties.  “The McCutcheon ruling took away limits on how much one could spend overall on elections, so it used to be that a wealthy donor was limited to a cap of about $120,000 dollars across all federal races, I mean Congress and the President, but now, that limit has been lifted, so one donor can give three and a half million dollars or more.”

Newman says the decision will benefit a few extremely wealthy people, while the average citizen no longer matters.  “I think that’s the pattern we see on vote after vote. Members of Congress tend to vote with the interests that give them the most money, and it’s already a terrible situation for the ordinary voter when your elected representative pays much more attention to donors than to their voters.”

Newman says there is more and more support for having all elections publicly funded, which would cost individuals about six dollars a year more on their taxes.

Another organization that is disappointed by the ruling is the Wisconsin Public Interest Research Group, or WISPIRG. Spokesman Bruce Speight says the McCutcheon decision makes the already-bad Citizens United case from four years ago worse.

The McCutcheon ruling affected federal races, but Speight says that could open the door for trouble with state campaign finance rules.  “It does potentially open the door for (eliminating) other contribution limits, the limit to give to individual candidates which again is 26-hundred dollars right now, even potentially (eliminate) limits on contributions for state candidates. That door might be open now, and that’s a big concern.”

Speight says they are supporting a constitutional amendment that would overturn Citizens United, and address the McCutcheon ruling as well, but it takes time and grassroots support. WISPIRG and the Money Out Voters In Coalition are working together on that effort.

(Listen to our interviews with Daniel Newman and Bruce Speight.)

More information available online at MapLight, WISPIRG, and Money Out Voters In.