SpeechNow and RNC Cases Decided in ‘Win-Some Lose-Some,’ Day for Campaign Finance Reform

Two Pivotal Campaign Finance Cases in One Day: Ban on Soft Money Upheld, Limits on Contributions to 527s Struck

U.S. PIRG Education Fund

WASHINGTON, March 26 – In a pivotal campaign finance decision today, the Republican National Committee’s challenge to the ban on soft money contributions to national parties was rejected by a three-judge panel.

“This defense of important campaign finance law is a real win in the battle to prevent the corruption which stems from unlimited campaign contributions, commented Lisa Gilbert, Democracy Advocate for the U.S. Public Interest Research Group.

“It is also important to note that the panel recognized that the recent unpopular Supreme Court decision, Citizens United v. FEC does not impact the Court’s decision in 2003 in McConnell v. FEC, which is a case that upheld the constitutionality of the soft money contribution ban,” Gilbert added.

The district court acknowledged today that it could not overrule the Supreme Court’s decision in McConnell, and that large contributions to national parties are “likely to create indebtedness” on the part of legislators and so could lead to corruption.

Also today, a decision was issued in another campaign finance case: SpeechNow v. FEC. In this ruling, the D.C. Court of Appeals struck down limits on contributions by individuals to political committees which make only independent expenditures, or 527s.

“The decision in the Speech Now case stemmed from the repugnant Citizens United decision, which said that independent expenditures, even when advocating directly for or against a candidate, are not corrupting,” Gilbert stated.

“The good news is that the D.C. Circuit did uphold the disclosure rules which apply to this type of organization; but nevertheless it still chose to widen the pool of entities which can now give in an unbridled fashion to advocate in our election process.

In the campaign finance world, today was certainly a win-some, lose-some day,” she added.

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U.S. PIRG, the federation of state Public Interest Research Groups, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization.
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