Dec. 10, 2014
Omnibus Appropriations Bill Would Further Corrupt Our Government by Increasing the Amount of Money an Individual Can Give to a Party Tenfold
Statement of Lisa Gilbert, Director of Public Citizen’s Congress Watch Division
Note: Congressional leaders have included text in the omnibus appropriations bill that would authorize individuals to give $97,200 per donor per year to each of three separate committees set up by the national parties – to fund the national conventions, to pay for the building funds and to pay for recounts and other legal proceedings, in addition to the current $32,400 maximum a donor can currently give per year to each party. This includes giving separately to each of the three separate committees the parties set up. Depending how the Federal Election Commission interprets this change, a federal officeholder may be able to solicit, and an individual donor would be able to give, $777,600 per year to a national party or $1,555,200 per election cycle. A couple could give $3,110,400 to a national party in a two-year election cycle.
The deal that was struck as a part of the omnibus appropriations bill filed yesterday is a clear-cut step in the wrong direction for our democracy. Using the funding bill to increase party limits is a move back toward the days of corrupting soft-money contributions. Increasing these limits would only enable more dollars to pour into a system already flooded with cash and would encourage higher independent expenditures in the money arms race to counter them.
This embarrassing deal sacrifices the interests of everyday Americans who want clean elections while elevating the concerns of politicians who want to raise more money.
The answer to out-of-control and unlimited outside spending by the super-rich and giant corporations isn’t to enable virtually unlimited contributions to parties – and, inevitably, candidates – but to get outside spending under control. To do this, we need to begin by putting an end to dark money with full disclosure.
As we look ahead to the next Congress, we urge the president to veto other craven attempts that are sure to emerge to try to further weaken our democracy, and to take an affirmative stand by pushing for the policy reforms needed to deal with big money in our system.