Last week’s Supreme Court decision overturned limit on the total campaign donations one may give, but left untouched the restrictions on what one person can give to one candidate. RNC Chairman Reince Priebus was on the Hugh Hewitt program last night and gave a great explanation of how last week’s ruling helps the party committees. He also spoke about the next step hich is to convince the courts to overturn the one remaining restriction.
Hewitt: Now Reince Priebus, I think this is actually going to be if not the most significant thing you do during your tenure, and long may it go on at the RNC, it’s historical. It’s very important for free speech interests. But would you explain how the RNC, the corruption argument was dismissed by a majority of the Court as simply not purposefully given, or they rejected it out of hand because it’s not corruption to give money to a national committee.
Priebus: A donor can give to us the same amount they could give to us before, which is $32,400. Now the FEC adjusts that number ever so slightly each election cycle, but so it’s $32,400. So there was some initial reports that came out and they said well, this means that money is going to flow in like it’s never had before. That’s not true. It’s always restricted. It’s still capped. It’s just that there’s no aggregate. And obviously it didn’t, you know the $32,000 grand here for the billionaires that spend $100 million or $10 million in soft money groups are still going to do that. It’s not going to change much of anything as far as how much money goes into politics.
Hewitt: Does it make the job of building the party easier, because this is, there’s been a great complaint among intellectuals, and I share it, that the parties got weak over the last 40 years, and that strong parties make for strong democracies. How much easier does this make your job?
Priebus: Well, it makes it easier, because I no longer have to call people to say I know we helped you out last year, but because I hit my aggregate limit, Reince, I love what you guys are doing, I appreciate that you’re getting a hold of these debates and building a field staff. But I can’t help you even if I wanted to. So now I can call our donors that are at that level and say guess what, you can renew at the end of this year. I’ve got great news for you. You can keep giving, and it actually does, I mean, it does make things easier, because actually you can fund the ground operation, which by the way, if people out there don’t realize, when it comes to the United States Senate, and winning that, and when it comes to keeping the House, and when it comes to about five or six key governor’s races across the country, as a national entity, we’re a massive reason why the field operation in all those states are paid for, because it mostly comes out of, in many cases, the Republican National Committee.
Hewitt: So to summarize, I want people to really understand this. There is, you can’t be bought. There isn’t enough money to buy a party, and the Supreme Court said that that’s a bogus argument. Nevertheless, the real hidden story remains union funding and special interest funding that always goes unremarked upon. Are you caught up, Reince Priebus, vis-à-vis the left when it comes to political campaign funding?
Priebus: I think as far as hard money competing with all of that, I’d say no, because the way that the laws are written, and the way that unions abuse the system and the fact that they have a built-in field operation where unions are actually using paid employees to go door to door and do their field work, no. But it gets us a step closer. And I think eventually, we need to get to a place where we don’t, where we have as long as we’ve got disclosure at the party level, we need to be on the same playing field as unions and third parties and 527’s and everyone else. So we’re getting there, and the McCutcheon case is a key component to getting the national parties on both sides on an even playing field with all of these third party groups.
Hewitt: Last question…
Priebus: I don’t think we should have caps at all.
Hewitt: That’s what I wanted to get to, because I don’t, either. I think that contribution limits are unconstitutional, and they have to be revisited. Will you look for an opportunity to put that before the Court as well?
Priebus: Absolutely, I would. And I would look to another, and I would look to cases that allow us to raise soft money, and I would look to cases that allow us to raise money for the conventions, and but disclose it all. You know, I mean, that’s kind of where I’m at personally, but you know, you look at even some of these disclosure laws, Hugh. You’ve got now groups that are targeting people viciously, both businesses and individuals, because their names are disclosed. I mean, you want to be for disclosure. But when you start to see some of the cases out there where people are targeted, and businesses are targeted and picketed and threatened for political contributions, then now you’re suppressing free speech through disclosure. So I mean, even things that I want to agree with are getting to be very difficult.
Hewitt: Well, keep pushing the 1st Amendment agenda. You can’t go wrong with that, Chairman Priebus. Congratulations on a big win, and just keep in mind, Cleveland has rapid transit. None of these other cities, well, Las Vegas does, but people will melt in the summertime in Las Vegas. You really have to keep in mind the rapid transit system.
While Mr. Priebus’ goal is noble, it is highly unlikely the court will overturn the individual donations.