Sunlight’s Response to SCOTUS Ruling on McCutcheon v FEC


Today, the Supreme Court handed down its decision on the campaign finance case, McCutcheon v. the Federal Election Commission, ruling that aggregate limits over direct contributions to political candidates are unconstitutional under the First Amendment. Sunlight’s Lisa Rosenberg anticipated this ruling in late 2013, writing that the Supreme Court could “snuff out the last ember of the campaign finance system.” While we are not surprised by today’s outcome, we are disappointed that the plutocracy we predicted is now sanctioned by the high court. Below the graphic is Sunlight’s official statement on McCutcheon v. FEC, and you can keep track of all of our related blog posts by following this tag.

We will continue to push for real-time transparency of hard money contributions to parties and candidates, and hope you will join us in our cause.

Read Sunlight’s official statement on the decision:

Once again, the Supreme Court has given more power to special interests and a tiny percentage of the very rich. Its Citizens United ruling four years ago opened up the floodgates for unlimited spending in our elections, and now it might as well have tied a big bow around Congress and deliver it to the 1%. By striking down the long-standing cap on total contributions individuals may give to federal candidates and political parties, the Supreme Court has permitted the unseemly spectacle of a single donor being able to contribute more than $3.5 million to one party during an election cycle (or double that, if he/she wants to hedge her bets).

In light of today’s decision in McCutcheon v. FEC, we need now more than ever real-time transparency of political spending so the public can know whether their elected officials are representing their interests or special moneyed interests. It’s technologically possible, so there’s no reason Congress should not act fast to enact legislation to mandate disclosure of all contributions of $1,000 or more to parties, candidates and political committees within 48 hours.

What this court fails to recognize is the First Amendment rights of the 99.9% of citizens who cannot buy access to elected officials in order to give voice to their issues. Seven-figure contributions are not a megaphone merely amplifying the voices of the donors, they are a sonic boom, overpowering to the point of silencing all other voices. Real-time transparency can foster accountability, deter corruption and act as a bulwark against the unfettered and wholesale purchase of our elections by the wealthy.

As Mitch McConnell, no friend to campaign finance laws, noted in 2010, “We need to have real disclosure… why would a little disclosure be better than a lot of disclosure?”

And be sure to read the joint analysis Sunlight’s Reporting Group and the Center for Responsive Politics recently published examining the deep-pocketed donors who could exceed the current ceiling because of today’s ruling.