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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4th, 2014
Supreme Court decision added $24.8 million in additional
campaign spending by mega-donors
Oakland, Dec. 4th – The Supreme Court’s most recent decision allowing more big money into our elections, April’s McCutcheon case, allowed $24.8 million in additional campaign spending by megadonors, according to new information released today by CALPIRG.
By analyzing donor data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics, CALPIRG found that 510 large donors surpassed the $123,200 aggregate limit on giving to all federal candidates and committees struck down by the Court in McCutcheon. Their spending above the limit totaled $24.8 million. An earlier projection by CALPIRG and Demos found that the decision will ultimately cause $1 billion in increased spending through the 2020 elections.
“The Court’s wrong-headed decision in McCutcheon specifically empowered a tiny group of megadonors – those with the ability to spend more than a hundred thousand dollars on an election,” said Zach Weinstein, Campaign Organizer with CALPIRG. “We should be working to lift up the voices of ordinary Americans, not making it even easier for large donors to drown out everybody else.”
In addition to amending the Constitution to overturn Citizens United and McCutcheon, and allow for limits on the influence of megadonors and Super PACs, more must be done to empower ordinary citizens to play a more active role in our elections. Fortunately, there are successful, proven models to support small donors so that their voices play a more central role in our democracy, such as providing tax credits and public matching funds for small donations.
For example, in New York City’s 2013 city council campaigns, small donors were responsible for 61% of participating candidates’ contributions, when funds from a matching program are included. In 2009, all but two of the 51 winning candidates participated in the small donor program, showing that candidates are able to raise the money they need to win without looking for large-dollar contributions. Public matching funds have also been instituted in Los Angeles and San Francisco, in order to encourage candidates to fundraise from a wide swath of the electorate instead of a few donors capable of writing big checks. The federal Government By the People Act would institute a similar system for Congressional elections.
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