-By Nathaniel Downes
July 1, 2012- The one remaining stronghold of campaign reform, in light of the Citizens United decision, has been that direct contributions to candidates remains restricted, that corporations could spend freely in elections but not directly contribute to political parties. In a lawsuit filed last week, as reported by the Washington Post, the Republican National Committee is attempting to overcome even this restriction, allowing the parties themselves to accept unlimited, unaccountable and anonymous donations.
The suit’s goals are to eliminate caps on donations to the central party committees, allowing them to become Super-Duper PACs as it were. With these restrictions lifted, the parties would gain the power of the SuperPAC without the restrictions that prohibit the SuperPAC’s from directly aiding a particular candidate. As it is right now, a donor is limited in the maximum amount he can supply to any particular political party, in order to prevent the laundering of funds to any particular candidate. With these limits removed, the central committee can funnel funds from any number of donors to whichever race it is chosen, unfettered.
The center of this is Alabama conservative activist Shaun McCutcheon, who wishes to donate more than the $70,800 limit currently in place. Mr McCutcheon is rabid in claiming himself a small business owner, but upon investigation, he is the owner of Coalmont Electrical Development, a large supplier of electrical and coal mining equipment. Mr McCutcheon is active in his Tea Party group, financed by his business interest. The lawsuit filed on Mr. McCutcheon’s behalf is being handled by Najvar Law Firm in Houston, Texas as well as DB Capitol Strategies PLLC in Washington D.C.
This is not the first such suit by DB Capitol Strategies PLLC, which previously had won the case “Carey, Eustis & National Defense PAC v. Federal Election Commission” which allowed for traditional PAC groups to become SuperPACs without the need to reorganize. Najvar Law Firm is less well-known, but its founder, Jerad Najvar, worked in the George W Bush Justice Department after his graduation from Texas A&M in 2003, as a researcher for the legal justification to operate Guantanamo Bay.
With the Citizens United decision, the political parties lost significant strength, as their previous donor pool no longer had to launder funds through the central party in order to reach the candidates. The rise of SuperPAC’s filled that role, as a corporation which desired a message to be expressed had a one stop shop for unlimited, unaccountable funding. As a result, the Republican Party has been crippled in its operational strength, with donations down a full third since the decision. The Democratic Party however has grown by 10% since 2008, having less corporate backers to begin with, and has currently raised 20% more this election cycle than the Republicans. (Source Opensecrets.org)