- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The Republican National Committee (RNC) was dealt a blow as a federal court on Friday denied a major donor’s request to revist rules that limit the total amount donors can give to federal politicians.

Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama engineer and Republican activist who has “maxed out” by giving $70,000 to party committees and $46,000 to candidates, argued that the longstanding limits are unconstitutionally low, and the RNC joined him in legal action, asking the Federal Election Commission to stop enforcing the rule.

“The RNC believes that others would contribute to the RNC but for the limit,” judges wrote in dismissing the case.

The plaintiffs latched onto ambiguity stemming from the 2010 Supreme Court that allowed unlimited independent expenditures, leading to “super PACs” that are not controlled by parties or candidates, by saying that contributions to candidates and parties, too, were a form of free speech that should be protected.

That ruling said that massive amounts of money directly to politicians could lead to quid-pro-quos, but advertisements run by groups not controlled by politicians could not.

“Although we acknowledge the constitutional line between political speech and political contributions grows increasingly difficult to discern, we decline Plaintiffs’ invitation to anticipate the Supreme Court’s agenda,” the judges held Friday.

Individuals may currently give a total of $117,000 to federal politics in a two-year cycle, a figure that has risen with inflation from $95,000 in 2004.

They may give $5,000 to any one politician, and $30,800 to any one political party. The RNC did not challenge those limits, but rather the aggregate ceiling that is triggered when donations are spread across many entities.