Politics

Spending Bill Rider Opens Door For Huge Increases In Wealthy Donor Donations

| by Kathryn Schroeder

A rider included in the $1.1 trillion spending bill filed Dec. 9 would increase the amount of money a donor could give to national party committees each year from $97,200 to as much as $777,600.

The rider was included in the bill a mere hours before it was filed, reports Politico.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi spoke out against the provision. She said it would “drown out the voices of the American people and massively expand the role of big money in our elections.”

Fred Wertheimer, a leading advocate for reducing the role of money in politics, said it was “written for millionaires and billionaires.”

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A call for President Obama to reject the rider has been made by advocacy groups.

The Washington Post broke-down how the rider would change current legislation.

“Bottom Lline: A donor who gave the maximum $32,400 this year to the Democratic National Committee or Republican National Committee would be able to donate another $291,600 on top of that to the party’s additional arms—a total of $324,000, ten times the current limit.”

The rider may be seen as a response to a bill Obama signed this year that eliminated public funding of the presidential nominating conventions.

“Parties are now strapped without the public funds, so what this would allow them to do is turn to huge contributors who have a vested interest in the outcome of the election to pay for this,” said David Donnelly, Executive Director of advocacy group Every Voice. “It is a further chipping away of the contribution limits that were set for parties and a further shift towards large contributions, rather than raising a large number of contributions from regular Americans."

Donnelly lays blame on Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, a longtime supporter of campaign-finance restrictions.

McConnell’s office responded and said the rider was not added at his bidding.

Amidst those who oppose the increase in donations the rider proposes, there are those who support it.

The rider “will ease the burden of fundraising for parties and allow them to speak more freely in upcoming elections,” David Keating, President of the Center for Competitive Politics, said. “Let the parties speak and let the voters decide.”

Lisa Albert, Director of the congressional arm of the advocacy group Public Citizen, referred to the rider as “embarrassing.”

“The answer to out-of-control and unlimited outside spending by the super-rich and giant corporations isn’t to enable out-of-control and virtually unlimited contributions to parties — and, inevitably, candidates — but to get outside spending under control,” Albert said.

Albert views the rider as a return to the days of “soft money,” when corporations and unions could donate unlimited amounts to the party committees.

The House of Representatives may vote as early as Dec. 11 on the bill, says House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH). The spending bill would fund the government through September 2015.

Sources: Politico, The Washington Post / Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons