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Rob Horowitz: Supreme Court Keeps Shredding Campaign Finance Laws

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

 

The McCutcheon decision is the next step in the systematic dismantling of the campaign finance laws designed to put sensible limits on the role of money in politics, believes Rob Horowitz.

In his final speech on the Senate floor in 1996, the year he left the Senate, Bill Bradley (D-NJ) said, ‘Money is not speech. “A rich man’s wallet does not merit the same protection as a poor man’s soapbox.”

Frustrated by what he viewed as a fundamentally unjust mid-1970’s Supreme Court decision (Buckley v. Valeo) overturning a provision of a sweeping campaign finance law, limiting how much of their own money candidates could use in a campaign, Bradley called for a constitutional amendment giving Congress the ability to restore those limits.

The latest in a series of bad decisions

In the wake of the current US Supreme Court taking another step last week in its McCutcheon decision to systematically dismantle the campaign finance laws designed to put some sensible limits on the role of money in politics, Bradley’s specific concern about rich candidates buying elections with their own money seems almost quaint.

Unlike Senator Bradley, a majority on the current Court, as they have demonstrated in bad decision after bad decision, does believe that money and speech are pretty much synonyms. From the perspective of the Court majority, the only justification for limiting the amount of money a person, corporation, labor union or special interest can spend to influence an election is a crabbed and narrow interpretation of the corrupting role of money in politics as limited to a direct quid pro quo.

Commenting on last week’s decision, Brennan Center for Justice’s David Earley said, “The Court doubled down on its holding that corruption only includes contributions given with the expectation of receiving official action in return — essentially a direct bribe in the guise of a political contribution. The Court also acknowledged that contributions can be used to gain ingratiation with and access to government officials while not reaching the level of outright bribery. But the Court praised this relationship rather than condemning it.”

The future of campaign finance

More specifically, in McCutcheon v. FEC., the Court by a 5-4 margin struck down the federal aggregate contribution limit of $123,000—the total amount one person could give directly to all federal candidates, parties and political committees per election cycle. Now, it will be possible through the use of joint fundraising committees for a single politician to solicit from one individual as much as $3.6 million, according to the Brennan Center.

This ruling comes on top of the 2010 Citizens United decision where the Supreme Court by another 5-4 margin unleashed the floodgates of unlimited corporate and union spending, striking down a long-standing law preventing corporations and unions from using money directly out of their treasuries in federal elections. Now, as long as there is no coordination with a candidate’s campaign, unrestricted spending by these entities is permitted.

In his dissent in the McCutcheon case, Justice Stephen Breyer said, “[This is] a decision that substitutes judges’ understandings of how the political process works for the understanding of Congress; that fails to recognize the difference between influence resting upon public opinion and influence bought by money alone; that overturns key precedent; that creates huge loopholes in the law; and that undermines, perhaps devastates, what remains of campaign finance reform.”

I couldn’t agree more

 

Rob Horowitz is a strategic and communications consultant who provides general consulting, public relations, direct mail services and polling for national and state issue organizations, various non-profits and elected officials and candidates. He is an Adjunct Professor of Political Science at the University of Rhode Island

 

Related Slideshow: Central MA State Legislature Candidates’ Campaign Finances

The candidates listed below represent the Massachusetts candidates who filed papers with the Board of Elections as of March 27, 2014.  Since Campaign Finance Reports are filed bi-annually, reports are not available for those who filed after December 31, 2013.  

The slides below list the candidates ending balance for the most recent filing period. Full reports are available through the The Massachusetts Office of Campaign & Political Finance by following the links provided 

Prev Next

Senate

First Worcester District

Harriette L. Chandler (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $182,870.00

2013 Year End Report

 

Paul J. Franco (R)

Ending Balance: $1,161.18

2013 Year End Report

 

Sean M. Maher (D)

No report available

 

William Feegbah (D)

No report available

Prev Next

Senate

Second Worcester District

Michael O. Moore (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $73,948.85

2013 Year End Report

 

Todd Williams (R)

No report available

Prev Next

Senate

Worcester & Norfolk

Richard T. Moore (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $131,471.62

2013 Year End Report

 

Ryan C. Fattman (R)

Ending Balance: $106,179.81

2013 Year End Report

 

Andrew Pontbriand (U)

No report available

 

Shella Fitzpatrick (U)

No report available

Prev Next

Senate

Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire & Middlesex

James P. Ehrhard (R)

Ending Balance: $14,173.93

2013 Year End Report

 

Michael J. Valanzola (R)

Ending Balance: $13,782.46

2013 Year End Report

 

Anne M. Gobi (D)

Ending Balance: $4,366.63

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

Senate

Worcester & Middlesex

Jennifer L. Flanagan (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $22,428.30

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

Senate

Middlesex & Worcester

James B. Eldridge (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $5,013.82

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

Senate

Hampshire, Franklin & Worcester

Stanley C. Rosenberg (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $64,012.74

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

House

1st Worcester District

Kimberly N. Ferguson (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $4,158.69

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

House

2nd Worcester District

Jonathan D. Zlotnik (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $16,250.34

2013 Year End Report

 

Richard Bastien (R)

Ending Balance: $282.17

2013 Year End Report

 

Dustin Colby Cabral (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

3rd Worcester District

Stephen Louis DiNatale (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $48,581.10

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

House

4th Worcester District

Dennis A. Rosa (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $8,657.31

2013 Year End Report

 

Daniel M. Phillipo (R)

No report available

Prev Next

House

5th Worcester District

Stephen J. Comtois, II (R)

Ending Balance: $324.17

2013 Year End Report

 

Jennifer J. Gaucher (R)

No report available

 

Donald R. Berthiaume, Jr. (R)

No report available

 

Jason M. Petraitis (R)

No report available

 

James Cooke (R)

No report available

 

George Yiantsidis (D)

No report available

 

Matthew Castriotta (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

6th Worcester District

Peter J. Durant (R)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $10,159.73

2013 Year End Report

 

Karen A. Spiewak (D)

Ending Balance: $2,396.18

2013 Year End Report

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House

7th Worcester District

Paul K. Frost (R)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $13,671.78

2013 Year End Report

 

Terry Burke Dotson (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

8th Worcester District

Kevin J. Kuros (R)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $8,169.42

2013 Year End Report

 

Joseph M. Hall (D)

Ending Balance: $1,802.04

2013 Year End Report

 

Joe F. Guertin (U)

No report available

Prev Next

House

9th Worcester District

David K. Muradian, Jr. (R)

No report available

 

Robert Shawn Craig (R)

No report available

 

Martin Green (D)

No report available

 

Eric Denison (U)

No report available

Prev Next

House

10th Worcester District

John V. Fernandes (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $6,473.93

2013 Year End Report

 

Christopher T. Kivier (R)

No report available

 

James Teed (R)

No report available

Prev Next

House

11th Worcester District

Matthew A. Beaton (R)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $13,731.09

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

House

12th Worcester District

Brad P. Wyatt (R)

Ending Balance: $40,894.64

2013 Year End Report

 

Harold P. Naughton, Jr. (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $26,369.83

2013 Year End Report

 

Bill Connolly (U)

No report available

 

Mary J. Richards (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

13th Worcester District

John J. Mahoney (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $28,127.53

2013 Year End Report

 

Jacqueline Gisela Kostas (R)

No report available

Prev Next

House

14th Worcester District

James J. O'Day (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $20,278.12

2013 Year End Report

Prev Next

House

15th Worcester District

Philip Palmieri (D)

Ending Balance: $51,817.36

2013 Year End Report

 

Mary S. Keefe (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $20,925.95

2013 Year End Report

 

Ralph Perez (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

16th Worcester District

John Fresolo (D)

Ending Balance: $11,453.39

2013 Year End Report

 

Daniel M. Donahue (D)

Incumbent

Ending Balance: $7,626.88

2013 Year End Report

 

Martin J. Cariglia, Jr. (U)

No report available

Prev Next

House

17th Worcester District

Michael Germain (D)

Ending Balance: $4,814.69

2013 Year End Report

 

Douglas Belanger (D)

Ending Balance: $453.44

2013 Year End Report

 

Michael Harper (D)

No report available

 

Moses S. Dixon (D)

No report available

 

Kate D. Campanale (D)

No report available

Prev Next

House

18th Worcester District

David P. Cortese (D)

Ending Balance: $2,383.31

2013 Year End Report

 

Brenda Ennis (D)

Ending Balance: $166.16

2013 Year End Report

 

Mark G. Dowgiewicz (D)

No report available

 

Joseph D. McKenna (R)

No report available

 

Jesse Limanek (R)

No report available

 
 

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