Neil Reiff was quoted in a story today in the Wall Street Journalabout the effects that the Supreme Court’s ruling in McCutcheon v. FEC might have on future court challenges to campaign finance laws. While the Court left in place limits on contributions to individual candidates and committees, the Court did not offer a robust endorsement of said limits.
Mr. Reiff pointed out that further loosening of campaign finance restrictions could create a catch-22 for Democrats. On one hand, fewer restrictions would allow Democrats to raise more money. On the other hand, Democrats generally favor tighter restrictions on money in elections.
Mr. Reiff told the Journal “There is always that tension.”
David Mitrani told Reuters today that the effects of the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC are already being felt at the state level, even a few days after the ruling. At issue in the case was aggregate contribution limits, which limited the total amount of money that individuals could give to all federal candidates ($48,600) and political committees ($74,600) per election cycle. While the Supreme Court left base limits intact, they struck down the aggregate limits on First Amendment grounds.
However, in addition to the federal government, twelve states plus the District of Columbia had similar aggregate contribution limits. Mr. Mitrani that campaign finance officials in Maryland and Massachusetts had already begun changing state regulations:
In Maryland, which has limited donations to party committees in state elections to $10,000 every four-year election cycle, state regulators already have told election lawyers that they will stop enforcing the limit, said David Mitrani, a lawyer who specializes in campaign finances cases.
Massachusetts officials also said they would stop enforcing the state’s limit on candidate donations, but are reviewing a limit on contributions to political parties.
Other states with such limits almost certainly will face lawsuits challenging the limits, Mitrani said.
Joseph Sandler defended MoveOn.org in a court appearance before a US District Judge in Baton Rouge, Lousiana yesterday. At issue was a billboard that MoveOn.org critical of Lousiana Governor Bobby Jindal’s rejection of Medicaid expansion. MoveOn.org parodied the state’s tourism slogan “Pick Your Passion” in the billboard, which then said “But hope you don’t love your health. Gov Jindal’s denying Medicaid to 242,000 people.”
In response, Louisiana sued MoveOn.org claiming trademark infringement. However, Mr. Sandler defended MoveOn.org, claiming that the billboard was clearly a parody, which is protected speech. He told the (Baton Rouge) Advocatethat the billboard “an appropriate and constitutional use of parody. The idea of the billboard is here the state promotes itself as a great place to live and visit yet we … want to make a point that it’s not such a good place to live and visit because of health care policy decisions of the governor. … This is a noncommercial use of the mark.”
Neil Reiff was quoted today in a story in Bloombergon the effect that the Supreme Court’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC will have on campaign fundraising in the coming months and years. With aggregate contribution limit declared unconstitutional, it is possible that super-Joint Fundraising Committees could come into existence that support dozens of candidates. With a super-JFC, an individual could write one massive check that would then be distributed among many candidates.
However, Mr. Reiff tampered expectations of such a rise:
Whether the McCutcheon ruling will lead to “a groundswell of money in the system, I don’t know,” Neil Reiff, a Democratic campaign-finance lawyer with Sandler, Reiff, Young & Lamb, said in an interview. Writing a big check to a super-JFC is “still not as efficient as writing a check to a super-PAC, so I can’t necessarily compare this to the revolution of super-PACs in Citizens United. But obviously it’s something,” Reiff said.
David Mitrani was quoted today in a story in Mother Jones about the far-reaching impact of McCutcheon v. FEC. He told the magazine that although the case dealt only with federal aggregate contributions, it will ultimately apply at the state and local level as well.
“The McCutcheon opinion is right from the Supreme Court and what the Supreme Court said is state aggregate limits on top of the federal limit are unconstitutional today, unconstitutional yesterday, unconstitutional 20 years ago,” said Mr. Mitrani. And in the case of states with low aggregate contribution limits, Mr. Mitrani added that “There are going to be pretty big changes in how money flows into those states.”
The article further detailed the aggregate limits that exist in the twelve states (plus the District of Columbia) who have such limits.
David Mitrani told WAMU that in the wake of yesterday’s Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, it is unlikely that similar limits at the state level will stand.
“[The ruling] certainly calls into question the laws, and it’s unlikely that given [Chief Justice John] Roberts’ opinion these laws would survive,” said Mr. Mitrani. ‘It’s unlikely that these aggregate limits by themselves will survive.”
In addition to the FEC, twelve states and the District of Columbia have similar aggregate contribution limits that capped how much donors could give to candidates such as gubernatorial candidates, state legislators, and judges at the state level.
Yesterday’s decision by the Court nullified the federal aggregate limit that individuals could give to all candidates and committees. Previously, donors could only give $48,600 to all federal candidates, and $74,600 to all PACs and party committees. With these limits nullified, donors are only restricted by base limits: $2,600 per election per federal candidate, $32,400 per year per national party committee, $5,000 per year per PAC, and $10,000 per year to the federal accounts of state and local party committees.
Neil Reiff was quoted in Campaigns & Elections magazine’s write-up on today’s McCutcheon v.FEC Supreme Court decision, striking down federal aggregate contribution limits. He told Campaigns & Elections that the “real winners will be national party committees. It’s been the national committees who are able to find and cultivate these larger donors. If an individual wants to triple max each year to the three national committees, that is $194,400 for the two-year cycle, way more than the aggregate limit.”
Under the old rules, an individual could only donate an aggregate of $74,600 per 2-year election cycle to all PAC and party committees, with a maximum contribution limit of $32,400 to any individual party committee. In addition, an individual could only donate an aggregate of $48,600 per cycle to all federal candidates, with a maximum contribution limit of $2,600 per candidate per election. Today’s decision strikes down the aggregate limits while preserving the contribution limits to individual candidates, PACs, and party committees.
David Mitrani was quoted in an article by the Center for Public Integrity today about today’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC. The Court cited the First Amendment to strike down the aggregate limit that individuals could give to candidates and parties. Mr. Mitrani told the CPI that the decision doesn’t just affect federal contributions, but state law as well. Twelve different states plus the District of Columbia impose some form of aggregate limit on contributions. Since the Supreme Court struck down the federal aggregate limit, similar limits at the state level “are unlikely to survive under the logic of the McCutcheon opinion.”
On Saturday, Time Magazine published a story on the growth of Ready for Hillary, a pro-Hillary Clinton Super PAC. The article describes how the Super PAC has geared up over the past few months so that if Ms. Clinton indeed decides to run for President, it will be ready to hit the ground running on day 1. Jim Lamb was named as one of several key cogs in the article that have helped the Super PAC build out a massive grassroots operation, making Ready for Hillary the premiere Super PAC of the 2016 Presidential race.
In addition, Politico’s Mike Allen featured the article as the lead story in this morning’s Politico Playbook. The excerpted section of the article in Playbook not only highlighted Ready for Hillary’s growth, but also included Mr. Lamb’s citation as a key cog in the operation.
To read the full article, which promises to be the first of several on the growth of Ready for Hillary, click here.
Joseph Sandler and Amanda La Forge successfully defended the Friends of Anthony Brown gubernatorial campaign in a frivolous lawsuit in Anne Arundel Circuit Court. At issue was fundraising restrictions that Brown’s opponent sought to place on his ticket. In Maryland, elected state officials and state legislators cannot raise campaign funds during the 90-day legislative session. Thus, as Lieutenant Governor, Anthony Brown is prohibited from fundraising during this time. In addition, Brown’s primary opponents Attorney General Douglas Gansler and Delegate Jolene Ivey are also prohibited from fundraising. However his choice for Lieutenant Governor, Howard County Executive Ken Ulman, is unburdened by these restrictions.
The Gansler campaign brought a frivolous suit against Mr. Brown and Mr. Ulman to try to prevent Mr. Ulman from fundraising during the legislative session. However, Joe Sandler and Amanda La Forge, counsel to Friends of Anthony Brown, successfully fought off the lawsuit. Not only did the Judge William C. Mulford II dismiss the lawsuit, he also rejected a request from the Gansler campaign for sanctions against the Brown campaign.
After the ruling, Mr. Sandler told the Baltimore Sun that the lawsuit was a “‘political stunt’ meant to ’embarrass and harass’ Brown and Ulman.” The Baltimore Sun also noted that the lawsuit was brought only against the Brown/Ulman ticket, and not against two Republican tickets where one or more of the candidates are similarly unburdened by the fundraising ban.