In the short run, yesterday’s much-hyped Supreme Court ruling won’t mean much. Eliminating overall contribution limits will give the party committees and candidates a little extra cash in their pocket, but the campaign finance landscape is largely the same as it was when Wednesday began. It’s what might come next that would fundamentally upend the campaign financing system. The attorneys and experts studying yesterday’s McCutcheon v. FEC ruling suggest it could make vulnerable one of the bedrock rules of the campaign finance system: Caps on individual contributions to parties and candidates.
— McCutheon is significant, attorneys say, because it’s one of the first cases to focus on contributions, not expenditures (the focus of Citizens United and other cases). As one GOP finance attorney put it, campaign finance relies on three elements: rules governing expenditures, contributions, and disclosure. The courts have ripped apart most expenditure regulations; the fear among reform advocates is now they’ve turned their attention to contributions.
— Those same advocates argued that the court’s majority opinion, written by Chief Justice John Roberts, reaffirmed the legality of contribution limits. But they’re also realistic: This isn’t a court that’s been kind to their way of thinking about campaign finance regulations. None would be seriously surprised if individual contribution limits came under scrutiny next.
— Here’s a possible outcome to keep an eye on, suggested by GOP campaign finance attorney William McGinley: The Supreme Court eventually rules that contribution limits are constitutional but stipulates that the current caps are far too low. Expect discussion in the coming weeks about legislative action to raise those limits (of course, as usual, don’t hold your breath waiting for legislative action).
The country’s post-Watergate campaign finance system has been turned on its head in recent years. And the changes might not be done yet.
— Alex Roarty
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The Commission on Presidential Debates put out a statement today that gives credence to Donald Trump's claims that he had a bad microphone on Monday night. "Regarding the first debate, there were issues regarding Donald Trump's audio that affected the sound level in the debate hall," read the statement in its entirety.
"A video of Donald Trump testifying under oath about his provocative rhetoric about Mexicans and other Latinos is set to go public" as soon as today. "Trump gave the testimony in June at a law office in Washington in connection with one of two lawsuits he filed last year after prominent chefs reacted to the controversy over his remarks by pulling out of plans to open restaurants at his new D.C. hotel. D.C. Superior Court Judge Brian Holeman said in an order issued Thursday evening that fears the testimony might show up in campaign commercials were no basis to keep the public from seeing the video."
No matter that his recall of foreign leaders leaves something to be desired, Gary Johnson is the choice of the Chicago Tribune's editorial board. The editors argue that Donald Trump couldn't do the job of president, while hitting Hillary Clinton for "her intent to greatly increase federal spending and taxation, and serious questions about honesty and trust." Which leaves them with Johnson. "Every American who casts a vote for him is standing for principles," they write, "and can be proud of that vote. Yes, proud of a candidate in 2016."
"By all means vote, just not for Donald Trump." That's the message from USA Today editors, who are making the first recommendation on a presidential race in the paper's 34-year history. It's not exactly an endorsement; they make clear that the editorial board "does not have a consensus for a Clinton endorsement." But they state flatly that Donald Trump is, by "unanimous consensus of the editorial board, unfit for the presidency."