With the Supreme Court hearing arguments on McCutcheon v. FEC today, one of the most important money-in-politics cases since Citizens United, members of the Maine People’s Alliance held bake sales at locations across the state to call attention to the case and the corrosive influence of wealthy, out-of-state donors on Maine politics.
The McCutcheon case is a challenge to aggregate contribution limits – limits that cap the total amount any one donor can give to federal candidates, party committees, and hard money PACs in a single election cycle. In 2012, that limit was $117,000. If the Court sides with McCutcheon, it would strike down the total federal limit of how much one person can give to political campaigns and possibly state limits like Maine’s as well.
According to state-level research released by MPA and Public Campaign, Maine saw 140 out-of-state “McCutcheon donors,” elite donors who contributed $105,300 or more to federal candidates, parties or PACs, contribute $331,756 to Maine candidates and state party committees in 2012.
“I am very concerned about the ever increasing amounts of "big money" in politics that has greatly diminished the value of the constitutional worth of our individual votes,” said Carmen Lavertu of Thomaston. “We’re coming together on Main Street today to illuminate the fact that super-sizing the influence of the biggest donors will leave our government even less responsive to the needs of regular community members and the local, independent small businesses that make up this Main Street.”
A ruling in favor of McCutcheon would only dampen an already faltering trust in government. The American National Election Studies’ 2012 Trust in Government survey found that 86 percent of Americans are worried about corruption of government, and 82 percent of Americans are worried about special interests buying elections – several percentage points higher than the previous 2008 survey.
“Of course we’re not actually going to raise $100,000 at a bake sale, and that’s the point. These events are a reminder most Mainers don’t have hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend on elections,” said Kevin Simowitz, organizing director at MPA. “Removing this cap is going to open the floodgates for wealthy out-of-state donors to buy more influence in Maine. The Supreme Court needs to stand up to this attempt to supersize the role of big money in politics. The more spending by big donors and corporations in an election, the less room there is for the rest of us to participate.”
Read the fact sheet on out-of-state McCutcheon donors in Maine here.