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SCOTUS Strikes Down Aggregate Contribution Limits

Good. It’s argumentatively stupid to cap the total amount of money an individual can give to a group of candidates.  We don’t cap TV advertising contributions to the stations which run campaign ads.  There sure as hell isn’t a cap on charitable contributions or investments, so capping political giving is derivative.

Besides, there sure as hell is no limit on giving to 527 or 501 groups.

A split Supreme Court Wednesday struck down limits on the total amount of money an individual may spend on political candidates as a violation of free speech rights, a decision sure to increase the role of money in political campaigns.

The 5 to 4 decision sparked a sharp dissent from liberal justices, who said the decision reflects a wrong-headed hostility to campaign finance laws that the court’s conservatives showed in Citizens United v. FEC , which allowed corporate spending on elections.

“If Citizens United opened a door,” Justice Stephen G. Breyer said in reading his dissent from the bench, “today’s decision we fear will open a floodgate.”

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. wrote the opinion striking down the aggregate limits of what an individual may contribute to candidates and political committees.

The decision did not affect the limit an individual may contribute to a specific candidate, currently $2,600.

But Roberts said an individual should be able to contribute that much to as many candidates as he chooses, which was not allowed by the donation cap.

“An aggregate limit on how many candidates and committees an individual may support through contributions is not a modest restaint at all,” Roberts wrote. “The government may no more restrict how many candidates or causes a donor may support than it may tell a newspaper how many candidates it may endorse.”

There is a similar case pending in federal court that the gang over at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty is working on.  It effects Wisconsin’s aggregate contribution limits which are even more insane than the federal one. It’s called Young vs. GAB.

Young v. GAB is a federal case challenging Wisconsin’s aggregate campaign contribution limits, which are even lower than the federal limits.  In fact, Wisconsin’s aggregate limit is set at the same level as the individual limit, meaning that if a donor gives a max contribution to one candidate, he or she cannot give even $1 to any other candidate.  WILL brought this case on behalf of Fred Young, a local philanthropist and businessman, alleging that the limit violates the freedom of speech and expression.

The GAB has moved to dismiss the case, arguing that the complaint does not sufficiently allege that Mr. Young is harmed by the limit. The parties have agreed to put the case on hold until McCutcheon v. FEC, a federal case pending before the U.S. Supreme Court challenging federal aggregate limits, is decided.

That gulping sound is Kevin Kennedy out of Madison.

Naturally, the Dems are angry — even though now their donors too can rejoice in giving to as many of them as they please — and have promised “legislative remedy” to the ruling.  They’ve been promising that since Citizens United but they haven’t done that while SuperPAC spending on both sides of the aisle only goes up and up.

Politico lists some of the proposals, admittedly, only one of them sounds appealing to me.

Meanwhile, Maine Sen. Angus King, an independent who caucuses with Democrats, said he introduced legislation intended to make donations more transparent by requiring all contributions of $1,000 or more to be disclosed to the Federal Election Commission within 48 hours. A campaign bill in the House will be introduced by Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas).

Why does this not bug me?  Well 1) I’m alright with instant disclosure over the Internet.  Makes sense.  2) Campaigns already have to do this anyway in the final days between their “Pre-Election Report” to the Federal Elections Commission and Election Day.  That typically is the last week to ten days of a campaign.

Heck was during that time in 2010 that I discovered Bruce Spingsteen dropped a max donation to Russ Feingold during my daily examination of his finance reports.

Ah…good times.

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And the Depths of Democratic Trackers Get Even Lower

Remember when Wisconsin Republican Congressman was telling us about a DCCC tracker watching him buy cereal at the supermarket?

Or the 38 seconds outside his home?  Of nothing but his house…

Well we now have a new “low” in the world of political tracking: Following someone into a funeral, with a camera!

And the more hilarious part, while it was a public event, it was already being covered by the press of every shape and size.

Democratic opposition research organization American Bridge apologized on Monday for sending someone to follow New Hampshire Republican Sen. Kelly Ayotte at a funeral this weekend, after a reporter and the New Hampshire Republican party attacked them for the move.

Ray Burton, New Hampshire’s longest serving executive councilor passed away in November,* and the crowd in attendance at his memorial service on Saturday included a number of politicians, including former New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch, and New Hampshire’s two Senators, Kelly Ayotte and Jeanne Shaheen.

Also in attendance was a Democratic “tracker,”someone who follows around candidates with a video camera capturing moments that can potentially be used to attack them later. The tracker was sent by the Super PAC American Bridge to follow around Ayotte.

WMUR’s James Pindell reported the presence of the tracker on Twitter, tweeting Saturday: “Hey @AmericanBridge tracker: Put away your damn camera taping @KellyAyotte and others at Ray Burton memorial service. #nhpolitics #getclass.”

After WMUR went public with the tracker news, the New Hampshire GOP picked up on the story and attacked American Bridge and has said they will forcibly remove all American Bridge staff from any and all events in the future.  Since then, American Bridge has publicly apologized and says “it will review its policies” and said “miscommunications” were the reason the tracker was at the funeral in the first place.

You know, the typical B.S. excuse one would accept from David Brock.

Another messed up part here — Ayotte’s not even on the ballot in 2014.  She’s up for re-election in 2016.

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At This Point, Scott Walker is Everyone’s “Back-up” Canadidate

Caught this over the weekend at NRO’s The Corner by Charles Cooke, who is in Alabama at this weekend’s big “Young Republicans National Convention.”

He did an unscientific poll of some of the attendees on their top pick for 2016.  Among the names given were Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, Sen Rand Paul (R-KY), and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.  But the name which came up the most as everyone’s “back-up” candidate is Wisconsin’s own Gov. Scott Walker.

Scott Walker’s name is mentioned a lot. But something about the way it is invoked bothers me slightly, and I can’t help wondering about the extent to which he is benefiting from being unscathed and — nationally at least — untested. Walker is a successful governor of Wisconsin — a blue state – and an avatar for the reform of union excess. But at some point, he’ll annoy people just as everybody else has. Rubio has upset many with his immigration bill; Jindal has, many claim, been found wanting; Paul Ryan was on a losing ticket in 2012, as was Sarah Palin; Rick Santorum lost a primary, as did Rick Perry; Chris Christie irritated some Republicans when he appeared to be so chummy with the president just days before an election; and Rand Paul is, among this crowd at least, mistrusted for his libertarianism. Scott Walker is certainly an impressive man. But, talking to the attendees, I’m left wondering to what extent he remains a Rorsach test onto whom the rank and file can project their desires without pushback.

Cooke has a point on the “Rorsach test” for the base.  Since 2008, the GOP faithful has been what appears more like a soul-searching exercise than a nominating process every four years when picking its presidential hopeful.  2012 was the worst example of this as many in the base felt they were stuck with a mediocre stock of candidates and pined for a number of Republican politicians who were sitting on the sidelines.

It is all that which currently puts Walker in the so-called “Catbird Seat.”  He’s currently not a candidate, has publicly stated he isn’t one, but by being on the outside, he becomes a conduit for all the bases hopes and dreams.

It is a nice place to be, but also a risky one.  If he fails any of the currently established “purity tests” the base has for presidential hopefuls, he will sink fast in primary polling.  It’s why the misreporting of the Wausau Daily Herald on Walker’s stance on immigration reform (The paper’s reporter said Walker backed the Senate bill; Walker in the paper’s own video says nothing even close to that. The paper issued a “clarification” later.) was so quickly shut down by Walker political operatives.

I’m pretty sure at the moment that Walker isn’t running, but I don’t doubt that he and his inner circle aren’t thinking about it.  The recall was more blessing than curse for Walker and the lack of any real candidate at this stage from the Democrats is proof positive of that.

So the next time DPW pens a press release about Walker looking past 2014 and towards 2016, perhaps they ought to look in the mirror and ask just how they helped make it possible that he’s able to in the first place.  But that would require humility on the part of Tate and Co., which is something in rather short supply in the quarters of Madison they hang out in these days.

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