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The Top Is Off: McCutcheon Opens Floodgates for 1 Percent to Spend Millions

Posted on Apr 3, 2014

    Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Photo by 'Democracy Now!'

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders and Mother Jones investigative reporter Andy Kroll told “Democracy Now!” about “the next Citizens United”—the Supreme Court’s decision this week to eliminate a long-standing limit on how much donors can give to political candidates and causes.

Kroll described the outcome of the case of McCutcheon vs. FEC as follows:

Shaun McCutcheon is a wealthy businessman from Alabama who, during the 2012 elections, decided that he wanted to cut a bunch of checks to right-leaning congressional candidates that he supported. You know, he actually made the checks out in the amount of $1,776—1776. You know, he’s a self-styled patriot, I suppose. What he found was that he could write several dozen of these checks, 27 of them, but he could not write the 28th. He had bumped up against what was called the aggregate limit, this kind of overall limit that was at issue in yesterday’s ruling in front of the Supreme Court. With the urging of some conservative lawyers and, ultimately, the help of the whole Republican Party, Shaun McCutcheon took his case to court and said, “I don’t think that you should be able to stop me from writing as many $1,776 checks as I want.” And knowing that, with the Roberts court the way it is, his challenge would stand a pretty good chance of succeeding, he filed a case well over a year ago and has taken it all the way to the top. And yesterday we saw the [conservative] Roberts court agreed with him.

Kroll then described the meaning of the ruling:

It’s empowered this very tiny slice of wealthy Americans who are fired up about politics and want to throw their money around in a whole new way. Before this decision yesterday, if you were a wealthy 1-percenter or .1-percenter and you wanted to get involved in politics—a Sheldon Adelson, a Michael Bloomberg—you know, you had options of forming a super PAC or giving to a super PAC, you know, these entities ushered in after Citizens United that can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money. You could also give to a nonprofit group. These are the shadowy entities that the Koch brothers like to use that also accept and raise—accept and spend unlimited amounts of money. Now, for the 2014 election, you can also cut checks of, you know, $2.3 million to support a whole array of congressional candidates. You could write a check for more than $10 million to political action committees. So this decision is going to reshape, you know, the world, but really for a tiny amount of people in this country who have that kind of means. And, you know, now they can also, in addition to giving to super PACs, in addition to giving to nonprofit groups, they can also give money to parties and candidates and PACs. So, it’s another option for a very tiny slice of our population.


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Kroll’s segment follows “Democracy Now!” host Amy Goodman’s conversation with Sanders.

‘Democracy Now!’:

—Posted by Alexander Reed Kelly.

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