EMILY’s List v. FEC Update

The Post reports on today’s huge decision in an important campaign finance case.

Experts suggested that the court’s decision could provide a boon to groups tapping into the fervor of anti-Obama activity and “tea party” events. It will certainly allow groups across the political spectrum to raise and spend money without pause, potentially leading to a more acerbic campaign environment.

The groups “are now free to accept unlimited contributions, to spend unlimited funds independently supporting or opposing federal candidates,” said Richard L. Hasen, a professor at Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and an election law expert. “One of the things we know about outside groups, as opposed to political parties, is that they run more negative ads. . . . This could lead to a more negative campaign season.”

Michael E. Toner, a former FEC chairman and former chief counsel to the Republican National Committee, said the ruling will provide a boost to outside groups at the expense of established political parties, which must continue to function under stringent financial limits.

“If you’re the Sierra Club or NRA, you can use soft money for these kinds of activities; if you’re the RNC or DNC, you can’t,” Toner said. “They are definitely at a competitive disadvantage.”

The Washington Times report is here.

The opinion, issued by a three-judge panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, nullifies the $5,000 annual cap on individual giving to nonprofits. The Federal Election Commission enacted the rule after the 2004 presidential election that saw a flood of money from independent groups including Swift Boats Veterans for Truth and MoveOn.Org.

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