Legal Filings

Legal Filings
Jul 26, 2013

CREW Signs Amicus Brief Defending Aggregate Limits on Individual Campaign Contributions

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Today, CREW joined a group of organizations concerned about the integrity of the electoral process in signing a Supreme Court amicus brief supporting the Federal Election Commission’s defense of aggregate limits on individual’s contributions to federal election campaigns.

Under current law, an individual can donate no more than $5,200 to a candidate during a two-year election cycle.  The law also limits the amount individuals can contribute to each federal and state political party and to non-party political committees such as PACs.  In addition to these limits, the total amount of contributions any individual is allowed to make to all federal candidates during a two-year election cycle is $48,600, and the total amount of contributions allowed to all non-candidate political committees is $74,600.  These “aggregate” limits have been challenged as unconstitutional.

In the brief, the groups said the aggregate limits are crucial to making the base contribution limits effective.  Without the $48,600 limit, a single donor could contribute a total of more than $2.4 million to the candidates of his or her favored political party in a single election cycle.  Similarly, without the $74,600 limit, a donor could give over $1.1 million to the three federal committees and fifty state committees of that party in a two-year election cycle.  It is only the aggregate limits that prevent the flow of such massive and plainly corrupting donations from donors seeking to influence federal candidates and party leaders.

The aggregate limits are designed to prevent circumvention of the base limits.  Without them, an individual could funnel massive amounts of money to a candidate by giving large donations to lots of other candidates and political parties with the expectation those contributions would be passed on to the favored candidate.  As a result, the aggregate limits directly advance the goal of preventing actual and apparent corruption.  The Supreme Court upheld this rationale when the aggregate limits were first challenged in the 1970s, and the concern about circumvention has not changed.  The aggregate limits should be upheld.

Click here to read the amicus brief submitted to the Supreme Court