Democrats hit Supreme Court decision on campaign funds
Illinois Democrats reacted with alarm Wednesday to the Supreme Court's ruling that campaign contributors shouldn't be limited in the number of candidates they support financially.
The court said that overall contribution limits of $48,600 by individuals every two years to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment, as did separate aggregate limits on donations to political committees, now $74,600.
But base contribution limits on donations to a given candidate or party committee are still in effect. This year's limits, which are adjusted each election cycle based on inflation, are $5,200 per candidate and $32,400 to a party committee.
"The Supreme Court once again has sold American elections to the highest bidder. This decision may be more good news for American oligarchs, but it is bad news for voters," said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin. "We have to move away from the wild west of deep corporate pockets and special interest war chests and focus on creating a fair elections system that allows mere mortals, without million-dollar bank accounts, to have their voices heard by the candidates that seek to represent them."
Former Madison County judge Ann Callis, the Democratic nominee in the 13th Congressional District that includes Champaign-Urbana, also was dismayed by the ruling, said campaign spokesman Marshall Cohen.
"Ann believes that regular middle class families need a stronger voice in the political process, and that's why she opposes today's Supreme Court ruling. Ann will fight for reforms to encourage and empower everyday people to get involved in our political system," Cohen said.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, said it would be up to the Federal Election Commission to interpret the decision and set out new rules.
"McCain-Feingold was put into place in 2003 and it was supposed to stop outside dollars coming in and to add more transparency. But the end result of McCain-Feingold has been that there's more outside money coming in and less transparency on who's doing it because of the way the law was interpreted and put into place and court decisions since then that have basically wreaked havoc on the campaign finance system in this country," Davis said.
Davis said he is "for as much transparency as we can get. If there's a donor, the donor's name ought to be listed so that we know who's funding those campaigns, and let the voters decide. I'd be for more transparency at every level."
Eric Thorsland of rural Mahomet, who is the Democratic nominee in the 15th Congressional District against incumbent Rep. John Shimkus, R-Collinsville, said "governance to the highest bidder has taken another step forward; representation of the individual has been lessened."
He said the decision "has put an ever greater burden on the individual to make certain to know who and why they are voting for one particular candidate over another. It puts that same burden on the news outlets like (The News-Gazette) to make certain all candidates and their positions are fairly and accurately presented."
Shimkus spokesman Steve Tomaszewski said the congressman "supports full disclosure of campaign contributions in the most transparent and immediately available manner possible."