Supreme Court ruling on campaign contributions shows another split in Ky. Senate Race

04/02/2014 12:12 PM

Add the United States Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday to strike down a piece of campaign contribution limits as yet another difference between Kentucky U.S. Senator McConnell and his chief Democratic rival in the race, Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The 5-4 ruling by the court stated that the aggregate limits that cap the total amount of money an individual can give to political campaigns, PACs and parties are unconstitutional.

McConnell last year filed an amicus brief in support of a GOP donor, Shaun McCutcheon, who challenged the constitutionality of having an aggregate contribution limit of $123,200. McConnell argued contributing money is political expression protected under the First Amendment.

In his opinion, Justice John G. Roberts Jr. ultimately agreed with that type of argument writing:

“Money in politics may at times seem repugnant to some, but so too does much of what the First Amendment vigorously protects. If the First Amendment protects flag burning, funeral protests and Nazi parades – despite the profound offense such spectacles cause – it surely protects political campaign speech despite popular opinion.”

The ruling doesn’t affect limits to individual candidates or party organizations. Donors still have caps on how much they can give to individual candidates for the U.S. House or U.S. Senate — $5,200 for the primary and general election this year — and up to $32,400 to a national party and up to $10,000 for a state party. In light of the ruling, high-powered donors can now give to as many of those groups or candidates as they want without worrying about hitting that aggregate limit of $123,200.

Other campaign finance watchdog groups argued that striking down that aggregate cap opens the door to corruption and is a step toward allowing unlimited campaign contributions to any group or candidate.

McConnell applauded the court’s decision and sought to clarify the language for those on the other side of the issue.

“Let me be clear for all those who would criticize the decision: It does not permit one more dime to be given to an individual candidate or a party — it just respects the Constitutional rights of individuals to decide how many to support,” McConnell said in a statement.

The Grimes campaign, on the other hand, said McConnell’s focus on the campaign finance issue rather than “putting Kentucky back to work” was a real problem.

“Alison Lundergan Grimes is encouraged the Supreme Court has not accepted Mitch McConnell’s radical wish for removal of all contribution limits, which would put politics up for sale even more. Our democracy is too important to be auctioned off to the highest bidder,” Grimes spokeswoman Charly Norton told Pure Politics in a statement.

About Pure Politics

Pure Politics airs Monday through Friday at 7 p.m. ET and again at 11:30 p.m. ET in all of cn|2's Kentucky markets. The program features political analysis and news, as well as interviews with officials, candidates, policy makers and political observers.

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