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Le Figaro, France

Who Wants to Buy the Election?

By Jean-Sébastien Stehli

Translated By Courtney Lind

22 February 2013

Edited by Lau­rence Bouvard

France - Le Figaro - Original Article (French)

Last Tuesday, the Supreme Court decided to hear a case that could lead to the complete dismantling of the law regarding election campaign financing. If the Supreme Court of the United States rules in favor of Alabama Republican Shaun McCutcheon, who is complaining about the limits imposed by the law concerning the amount he can give to his preferred candidates and party, we will enter into a new era where the richest can buy elections.

Since the 2010 Supreme Court decision in the “Citizens United” case, those laws adopted after the Watergate scandal are about to be dismantled, measure by measure, by the court of Chief Justice John Roberts. The 2010 decision authorized companies to contribute to political campaigns just like ordinary citizens, under the pretext that the financial donations constituted a right of expression and therefore fall under the protection of the Constitution.

Shaun McCutcheon's case is simple: The Alabama Republican complains that the contribution of $123,000 per election cycle is too low.

During the last presidential election, there was an explosion in a new way of financing parties: the "Super PAC." These Super PACs allow people and groups to circumvent the law. Contributors with deep pockets can raise as much money as they wish to finance not the candidate directly but the causes close to the candidate. The border is particularly fine between the two.

If the court agrees with McCutcheon, and, given the composition of the court, this is likely, the laws that were adopted to protect the integrity of elections will for the most part be skipped over. From that point on, an individual with deep pockets could directly finance the party or candidate of his or her choice.



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