Supreme Court Decision Puts Members of Congress at Risk

Posted April 3, 2014 at 10:49am


While some national political party leaders are jumping for joy over the Supreme Court’s McCutcheon ruling eliminating the limit on the aggregate amount of political contributions a person can give, it may immediately increase the chances of members of Congress being dragged into corruption investigations.

Anytime you have legislators coming close to large political contributions of $100,000 or more from individuals or organizations concerned with, or benefiting from, legislative activity or regulatory actions, there is an immediate question or concern about the motives involved, sometimes leading to the appearance of corruption.

After the scandals of the unlimited soft money era, Congress wisely prohibited members of Congress from soliciting unlimited soft money contributions. Without immediate action, new joint fundraising committees will be quickly formed and members of Congress will again become the solicitors of contributions ranging into the millions of dollars. As currently done with PAC contributions, the Congressional leadership teams and leaders of standing committees of Congress may be given quotas of funds to be raised, and their regulated industry leaders hit up for large contributions.

To avoid the potential scandals and accusations of appearances of corruption, Congress should quickly pass legislation that would (1) prohibit members of Congress from soliciting, requesting, suggesting, recommending, directing, receiving or facilitating contributions of $100,000 or more to any joint fundraising committee; and (2) require joint fundraising committees to report to the FEC the receipt of any contribution of $100,000 or more, within 48 hours.

Even prior to legislation being considered, the four House and Senate leaders, as well as the six national party and Congressional campaign committees, should voluntarily adopt the policies. Their adoption may save more members of Congress than the new money may help elect.