McConnell’s Eyes on the Prize–Repealing All Campaign Finance Laws

The big unfolding story of the post-election period is the ever-rising clamor of Republicans for appropriations riders “defunding” Obama’s executive action on immigration, or this or that feature of Obamacare. I am sure others will get into line holding up additional conservative ideological totems.

But what does it appear Mitch McConnell is focused on? Further deregulating campaign money, of course (per a report from Paul Blumenthal at Huffpost):

Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is trying to use a massive appropriations bill to loosen campaign finance rules.

The Republican leader’s office is attempting to attach a policy rider to the omnibus bill that would effectively end limits imposed on coordinated spending by federal candidates and political party committees.

Currently, coordinated spending by candidates and political parties is limited based on a series of formulas for different offices. For example, the total amount presidential candidates may coordinate with political parties is calculated as the national voting-age population multiplied by two cents — a figure that is adjusted for the cost of living each election cycle.

The McConnell rider would allow parties to consult with candidate campaigns on advertising or other electoral advocacy without having the resulting spending count towards their coordinated limit, so long as the spending is not “controlled by, or made at the direction of” the candidate. The change would create a loophole essentially making the coordinated limits moot…..

In practice, discarding the current limits would give candidates significant input into the spending of party committees that can accept much larger direct contributions than the candidates are allowed to receive for their own campaigns.

This is pretty typical of McConnell’s priorities. This supremely cynical man may or may not actually believe in the various tenets of conservative orthodoxy. But he believes in buying and selling political campaigns with vast and unlimited appeals for cash from special interests with the tenacity of a mystic in direct communication with God Almighty.

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Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.