Those who hope for distance between money and political influence in Washington have suffered a stinging defeat. Tucked in the $1 trillion dollar budget approved by the U.S. Congress over the weekend was a provision allowing the rich to give even more to political parties.
CCTV America’s Daniel Ryntjes reported this story from Washington, D.C.
Budget provision allows for significantly more donations to political partiesThose who hope for distance between money and political influence in Washington have suffered a stinging defeat. Tucked in the $1 trillion dollar budget approved by the U.S. Congress over the weekend was a provision allowing the rich to give even more to political parties.
The budget had to be passed to avoid a U.S. government shutdown, so there wasn’t much time for lawmakers to debate a measure raising the annual amount an individual can donate to a national party committee from about $97,000 to $776,000.
It’s a huge blow to those advocating major reforms to reduce the influence of donations on the political system.
“Someone who’s going to hand over $700,000 usually wants something in return,” Government Affairs lobbyist Craig Holman said. “So this provides the very wealthy and only the very wealthy, not you and I, only the very wealthy direct access with the means to unduly influence legislation and public policy. This is serious corrupting legislation.”
While there were opponents to the measure in both political parties, supporters said the primary intention is to fund costly party conventions.
It follows a decision by the Supreme Court in 2010 to enable unlimited donations to independent political organizations and unions without disclosure.
“I think people do have a right to spend the money and not be limited by the government in the way they wish to do so,” Adolfo Franco, executive vice president for the Direct Selling Association, lobbyist, and Republican presidential campaign adviser said.
Franco said the fact these new limits require full public disclosure of large donations provides a restraint on corrupt practices and undue influence.
“That’s why I think our system works ultimately, because of the disclosures that are required and because of the activities of the parties themselves will be closely monitored, and simply saying this person is doing the bidding of so and so,” Franco said.
Opponents have said they will closely monitor individual contributions in order to show that raised limits corrupt the political process.
Those in favor of the legislation said the majority of political funding for campaigns will still come from the thousands of incremental donations.
While big money is no guarantee of success in politics, there’s no doubt this dramatic shift in direct limits has raised the stakes further in the debate about the influence of wealthy individuals on the political process.