Freedom to spend your money

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According to McCutcheon, he had contributed the maximum amount to 16 Republican candidates, and wanted to make contributions to 12 more Republican candidates and give $25,000 each to three Republican committees. The federal limits for contributions barred individuals from contributing more than $48,600 to candidates and more than $74,600 to groups. McCutcheon grew frustrated with those restrictions, and took his case to Washington.

The decision will allow a party’s politicians to solicit multimillion-dollar contributions from wealthy donors and put those large donations under the control of a single joint fundraising committee, which will distribute it to various candidates. This has sparked criticism that the wealthy will now play an even larger role in elections and make it tougher for the average individual’s voice to be heard.

The decision comes at a time when lawmakers in the New York State Senate are negotiating a new public-financing proposal that will phase in a donor-matching system by 2020. The system, modeled after New York City’s small-donor system, will allow candidates to raise money from average citizens rather than relying on a few wealthy donors. Candidates will raise funds on their own, and report every contribution of $1,000 or more within two days. The limit will be $6,000 per person.

To become eligible for the system, a candidate will need to raise at least $200,000, at least $2,000 of that in contributions of $10 to $75 from New York residents. Candidates will periodically submit campaign reports that will be reviewed by the state Board of Elections, which will also examine candidates’ expenditures. The state will then match the funds brought in during that period, though not those contributed by lobbyists, anonymous donors or vendors for campaigns, or transfers from political parties or committees.

This pilot program will be applied to one campaign this year, for state comptroller, but state officials are hoping to implement the system for the 2016 Senate and Assembly races, and statewide by 2020.
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