Last week, the Supreme Court struck down the aggregate limit on how much people can give in capped donations to campaigns and parties. While this makes it possible for the rich to give the maximum amount to as many candidates as they want, a fun side result is that it has taken away the rich’s polite excuse of, “Aw, sorry. I’ve reached my aggregate limit,” when candidates they don’t favor come a-knockin’. Politicians are now free to shake down the rich for all they are worth.
The majority ruling in McCutcheon et. al. v. Federal Election Committee did not, as many originally assumed, lift the cap on the amount donors could give to any one candidate. The max donation is still $5,200 per candidate and $32,400 to a party committee. Instead, it eliminated the cap on the aggregate donations donors can give, which would have been $123,200 in 2014. All of these figures are adjusted each cycle based on inflation.
Now you can think of politicians as telemarketers, and rich people as that guy who forgot to take his name off the do-not-call list. They will never stop calling. Get ready, rich people.
According to the Center for Responsive Politics, about 600 donors maxed out on aggregate federal contributions during the 2012 election cycle. Of those, 160 were from Washington, Virginia, New York and Maryland. So it looks like the decision might lead to more lobbyists and Wall Street giants being able to have even more sway over elections than they did before. But that doesn’t mean all of them are happy about it.
“I’m horrified, planning to de-list my phone number and destroy my email address,” lobbyist Ken Kies told Politico in a real interview not published in The Onion. Kies, along with his wife, frequently donates the max in federal political contribution limits. “What I was really hoping for is a ban on lobbyists making contributions entirely.”
It’s clearly very hard to be rich these days.