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Rob Horowitz: Supreme Court Keeps Shredding Campaign Finance Laws

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

 

The McCutcheon decision is the next step in the systematic dismantling of the campaign finance laws designed to put sensible limits on the role of money in politics, believes Rob Horowitz.

In his final speech on the Senate floor in 1996, the year he left the Senate, Bill Bradley (D-NJ) said, ‘Money is not speech. “A rich man’s wallet does not merit the same protection as a poor man’s soapbox.”

Frustrated by what he viewed as a fundamentally unjust mid-1970’s Supreme Court decision (Buckley v. Valeo) overturning a provision of a sweeping campaign finance law, limiting how much of their own money candidates could use in a campaign, Bradley called for a constitutional amendment giving Congress the ability to restore those limits.

The latest in a series of bad decisions

In the wake of the current US Supreme Court taking another step last week in its McCutcheon decision to systematically dismantle the campaign finance laws designed to put some sensible limits on the role of money in politics, Bradley’s specific concern about rich candidates buying elections with their own money seems almost quaint.

Unlike Senator Bradley, a majority on the current Court, as they have demonstrated in bad decision after bad decision, does believe that money and speech are pretty much synonyms. From the perspective of the Court majority, the only justification for limiting the amount of money a person, corporation, labor union or special interest can spend to influence an election are a crabbed and narrow interpretation of the corrupting role of money in politics as limited to a direct quid pro quo.

Commenting on last week’s decision, The Brennan Center for Justice’s David Earley said, “The Court doubled down on its holding that corruption only includes contributions given with the expectation of receiving official action in return — essentially a direct bribe in the guise of a political contribution. The Court also acknowledged that contributions can be used to gain ingratiation with and access to government officials while not reaching the level of outright bribery. But the Court praised this relationship rather than condemning it.”

The future of campaign finance

More specifically, in McCutcheon v. FEC., the Court by a 5-4 margin struck down the federal aggregate contribution limit of $123,000—the total amount one person could give directly to all federal candidates, parties and political committees per election cycle. Now, it will be possible through the use of joint fundraising committees for a single politician to solicit from one individual as much as $3.6 million, according to the Brennan Center.

This ruling comes on top of the 2010 Citizens United decision where the Supreme Court by another 5-4 margin unleashed the floodgates of unlimited corporate and union spending, striking down a long-standing law preventing corporations and unions from using money directly out of their treasuries in federal elections. Now, as long as there is no coordination with a candidate’s campaign, unrestricted spending by these entities is permitted.

In his dissent in the McCutcheon case, Justice Stephen Breyer said, “[This is] a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”

I couldn’t agree more

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

Related Slideshow: Gina Raimondo CGF Campaign Donations

A well-connected network of wealthy and powerful donors who have pumped tens of thousands into the campaign coffers of General Treasurer Gina Raimondo are linked to a nonprofit promoted by her office. They include the former chairman of one of the largest toy makers in the world, the nation’s oldest auto insurance company, and other deep pockets from the banking and investment world. Below is a breakdown of all the key donors with ties to the nonprofit, the Capital Good Fund.

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Beshar Family Contribution

Total Contribution: $13,500

Jacqueline G. Beshar, Co-Chairwoman of Capital Good Fund

  • 9/27/2011  $1,000
  • 10/3/2012  $1,000
  • 3/4/2013  $1,000

 

Robert Beshar, Law Offices of Robert Beshar

  • 12/9/2012  $1,000
  • 12/15/2013  $1,000

 

Peter Beshar, Marsh & McLennan

  • 9/15/2010  $500
  • 8/22/2011  $1,000
  • 9/23/2012  $500

 

Christine Beshar, Cravath Swaine & Moore LLP

  • 12/9/2012  $1,000
  • 12/15/2013  $1,000

 

Frederica Beshar

  • 10/5/2012  $500

 

Scot Jones, Groov-Pin Corp. (Husband of Jacqueline G. Beshar)

  • 5/9/2010  $250
  • 6/4/2010  $750
  • 12/05/2011  $1,000
  • 10/3/2012  $1,000
  • 3/25/2013  $1,000
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Hower Family Contribution

Total Contributions: $10,000

Lee Hower, Co-Chairman of Capital Good Fund

  • 12/16/2009  $1,000
  • 3/11/2010  $1,000
  • 7/7/2011  $1,000
  • 3/30/2012  $1,000
  • 2/16/2013  $1,000



Heather Hower, Brown University

  • 12/30/2009  $1,000
  • 3/11/2010  $1,000
  • 7/9/2011  $1,000
  • 3/30/2012  $1,000
  • 2/16/2013  $1,000
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Tobias Lederberg

Former Vice President of Capital Good Fund

Total Contribution: $5,000

  • 12/21/2009  $1,000
  • 3/30/2010  $1,000
  • 9/23/2011  $1,000
  • 3/31/2012  $1,000
  • 3/19/2013  $1,000
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Daugherty Family Contribution

Total Contribution: $4,125

William Daugherty, ANC Sports

  • 6/15/2012  $1,000
  • 3/24/2013  $1,000
  • 11/27/2013  $1,000

 

Tracy Daugherty, Homemaker

  • 11/29/2012  $125
  • 3/24/2013  $1,000

 

Note: Tracy and Bill Daugherty are individual donors to CGF.

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Jessica Ricci

Member of Capital Good Fund's Board of Directors

Total Contribution: $1,550

  • 10/14/2010  $50
  • 9/30/2011  $1,000
  • 10/31/2013  $500
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Citizens Bank

Total Contribution: $10,625

Edward O. Handy III

  • 3/25/2010 $750
  • 9/25/2010  $250
  • 3/28/2012  $500
  • 7/15/2013  $1,000

 

Maria Carlino

  • 9/27/2012  $1,000
  • 11/22/2013  $500

 

Donna Brady

  • 3/17/2010  $150
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 1/20/2012  $100
  • 7/15/2013  $200
  • 11/7/2013  $100

 

Barbara C. Garrahy

  • 8/24/2010  $100
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 9/12/2011  $250
  • 7/9/2013  $500

 

Stephen P. Higginbotham

  • 6/22/2010  $250
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 12/2/2013  $200

 

Michael Kennally

  • 9/6/2010  $150
  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 7/15/2013  $250

 

James M. Hagerty

  • 5/3/2010  $250
  • 6/29/2010  $150
  • 10/6/2010  $250


Kenneth W. Robinson

  • 10/5/2010  $250
  • 7/15/2010  $500

 

Joseph Gleason

  • 9/12/2013  $200
  • 11/20/2013  $250

 

Kenneth B. Martin

  • 7/22/2013  $250

 

Gregory Kirwan

  • 10/4/2010  $250

 

Terrence W. Allen

  • 10/5/2010  $250

 

Anthony A. Botelho

  • 10/5/2010  $250

 

Gail Ginnetty

  • 9/26/2013  $50
  • 9/30/2013  $100

 

Peter R. Bakkala

  • 6/22/2010  $125

 

David Grassini

  • 2/6/2010  $100

 

Patricia E. Wegrzyn

  • 8/15/2012  $100

 

Stephen Craven

12/31/2013  $50

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Hassenfeld Family Initiatives

Total Contribution: $4,000

Alan G. Hassenfeld

  • 6/23/2010  $1,000
  • 8/17/2011  $1,000
  • 6/5/2012  $1,000
  • 9/5/2013  $1,000
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Bank Rhode Island

Total Contribution: $1,375

William C. Tsonos, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125
  • 9/13/2011  $250

 

Linda Simmons, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125
  • 9/12/2011  $250

 

Emanuel E. Barrows, Bank RI

  • 9/13/2011  $250

 

Mary E. Leach, Bank RI

  • 6/17/2010  $125

 

Steven M. Parente, Bank RI

  • 6/21/2010  $125

 

Robert H. Wischnowsky, Bank RI

  • 6/21/2011  $125
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Sovereign Bank

Total Contribution: $2,225

Kevin J. Sullivan

  • 6/24/2010  $1,000

 

Michael Lee

  • 10/27/2012  $100
  • 12/31/2013  $25
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TD Bank

Total Contribution: $1,575

Robert A. Kolb Jr.

  • 6/16/2010  $1,000

 

John Conte

  • 6/22/2010  $250

 

Rosalin Acosta

  • 6/30/2010  $150

 

Scott H. Sanborn

  • 6/22/2010  $125

 

Amy Beauchamp

  • 9/29/2013  $50
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Ariel Investments

Total Contribution: $1,000

John W. Rogers Jr.

  • 9/15/2010  $1,000
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New Roots Providence

Total Contribution: $325

Sabina Matos

  • 3/31/2010  $25
  • 6/20/2010  $25
  • 9/12/2011  $250
  • 12/30/2013  $25
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Rockland Trust

Total Contribution: $250

William Lavelle

  • 6/24/2010  $250
Prev Next

Social Venture Partners Rhode Island

Total Contribution: $250

Kelly Ramirez

  • 6/6/2010  $100
  • 12/10/2012  $25
  • 9/24/2013  $25
  • 9/30/2013  $100
Prev Next

Rhode Island Foundation

Total Contribution: $100

Carol Einhorn

  • 3/31/2010  $100
 
 

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