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Republican Donors Set to Benefit Most from SCOTUS Removing Overall Campaign Gift Limits

Republican donors are set to be the chief beneficiaries of a Supreme Court ruling that eliminates overall campaign contribution limits.

The justices sided with the plaintiff, Alabama businessman Shaun McCutcheon, in a 5-4 decision that ruled government regulations on aggregate donations violate a donor's free speech rights.

A study by the Sunlight Foundation shows that is a big win for Republicans given that two-thirds of the country's top 1,000 donors from the last election favored the GOP over the Democrats.

From Sunlight Foundation:

There is substantially more big money on the political right than the political left. Of the 1,000 top donors, 658 gave more to Republicans, and 360 gave more to Democrats (two broke even). In other words, almost two-thirds are Republican-leaning donors. Or put another way, that’s 1.83 Republican top donors for every one Democratic donor.

Among the 886 top donors giving 90 percent of their money to one party, 580 (65.4 percent) gave primarily to Republicans, while 326 (36.8 percent) gave primarily to Democrats, which is roughly similar to the entire top 1000.

Most of the top donors funnel their money to super PACs rather than political parties, but that could also change as a result of the McCutcheon v. FEC case.

Campaign finance records show McCutcheon has given to GOP candidates and conservative groups, including a donation to Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell's re-election bid.

In an interview with WFPL, McCutcheon's attorney said McConnell was "extraordinarily helpful"with the case when the GOP leader filed an amicus brief last fall.

Campaign finance reformers say this will result in even larger buckets of money being poured into U.S. elections. But those opposed to those regulations, such as McConnell, argue the government shouldn't be involved in telling individuals how much they can spend on candidates of their choice.

In fact, McConnell's legal argument goes further than McCutcheon and seeks to eliminate caps allowed for individual campaigns as well.

Ironically, the Federal Election Commissions is asking the senator's re-election team about apparent excessive contributions. In an April 2 letter, the regulatory agency lists nearly two dozen instances where it says either individuals or political action committees gave more than the allowed amount.

From the FEC:FEC letter to Mitch McConnell Campaign

The April correspondence isn't the first time the FEC has inquired about McConnell's donations, but the campaign says they have worked diligently to make sure they're complying with the law.

"This is a routine problem for any campaign of this size," McConnell campaign spokeswoman Allison Moore told WFPL when asked about the letter.

Moore says during the last quarter when the FEC highlighted 19 possible excessive contributions, they found 16 "were proper and that only three contributions totaling $2,900 needed to be refunded."

Copyright 2014 89.3 WFPL News Louisville

Phillip M. Bailey became WFPL's political editor in 2011, covering city, state and regional campaigns and elected officials. He also covers Metro Government, including the mayor's office and Metro Council. Before coming to WFPL, Phillip worked for three years as a staff writer at LEO Weekly and was a fellow at the Academy of Alternative Journalism at Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.
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