McCutcheon and A Brief History of Campaign Finance Reform

Does campaign financing sound like a dull topic?  I expect it might to some.  For that matter, many people might not keep up with politics beyond that presidential election that happens every so often.  However, a major case was decided this week, so with this post I will try to walk the line between keeping this article a “light afternoon read” while covering a highly important topic in current events.

Politics are important – they dictate so much about our lives on a daily basis.  Which is why I have heard so many people this week lamenting or praising the United States Supreme Court’s decision Wednesday in McCutcheon v. FEC.  I will not discuss McCutcheon at length, but suffice it to say that the decision does away with limits on aggregate campaign contributions (if you want to read the full case, click here).  If you already know what aggregate campaign contributions are, feel free to skip the next paragraph.

For those who are unaware of what aggregate campaign contribution are, a distinction needs to be made between “base limits” and “aggregate limits.”  Base limits restrict how much money can be given to a single candidate.  Aggregate limits restrict how much money can be given overall to all candidates and committees over a certain course of time.  The ruling in McCutcheon overturned limits on aggregate campaign contributions but did not overturn limits on base campaign contributions.  After McCutcheon, one can still only contribute up to a certain amount to one candidate, but then can continue contributing to other candidates and committees.

The implications of this?  I have heard colorful commentary from both sides.  Some say it allows for constitutional contributions and involvement in the political party by those wishing to donate.  Others state that it allows a wealthy person to have too much sway over politics and even that it places our government up for auction.  But rather than debate the merits of campaign finance reform, I will rather leave those of you who would like to read more with this article I found interesting from The Washington Post, “From George Washington to Shaun McCutcheon: A brief-ish history of campaign finance reform.”


The author of TNLawyerLee is Nicholas W. Lee, Esq., an attorney in Knoxville, Tennessee.  If you or someone you know need an attorney, please click herefor Mr. Lee’s contact information and contact him today for a free consultation.  Also, please feel free to visit Mr. Lee’s website, or follow his page on Facebook for updates as to his law practice or new posts to TNLawyerLee by clicking here.

The information on this site is general information and should not be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and you should consult with an attorney in your state about the specific details of your case. Nothing on this site or in correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as forming an attorney-client relationship and information you send prior to the forming of an attorney-client relationship may not be kept confidential. Neither this site nor correspondence with Nicholas Lee or his agents shall be construed as a promise nor as undertaking a duty regarding you or your case. Nicholas Lee and his agents are not retained as your legal counsel unless a valid written Representation Agreement is reached regarding your specific case.

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