Millionaire’s Amendment

The so-called "millionaire’s amendment" took center stage today with a NY Times article detailing efforts by the GOP to find candidates with the ability to self-finance.

The Times noted that "a 2002 rule known as the millionaires’ amendment has tended to discourage wealthy candidates from pouring large sums into their own campaigns early on. The rule raises campaign contribution ceilings to candidates whose opponents spend large amounts of their own money."

But former House candidate Jack Davis is challenging the constitutionality of the "millionaire’s amendment." Davis’s challenge has caught the eye of both Bob Bauer and George Will.

Will writes that the "millionaire’s amendment" is designed to protect incumbents and reveals "the cynicism behind campaign regulation’s faux idealism about combating corruption" and "the corruption rationale for campaign finance regulation is a charade."

Bob Bauer points out that "The law does not simply note the millionaire’s spending and license the non-millionaire to spend more.  It forces a series of reporting requirements on the wealthy candidate to aid her opponent in calculating and acting on the special advantages the law allows.  Though not in the millionaire’s interest-in fact, sharply at odds with it-he is pressed into the opposition campaign’s service, delivering information under the command of the government so that the opponent can raise the money needed to counter the millionaire’s and to improve the odds of defeating him.

The purpose of these disclosure requirements, it bears stressing, is not to enlighten the general public about the progress of the wealthy candidate’s spending, and it is not to help the FEC enforce the law’s limits as they apply-since in this instance they do not-to the millionaire candidate.  This is for the benefit of the opposition candidate, who needs the information, on the schedule and in the form provided, to collect additional private contributions and use them to beat the reporting party, his opponent."

According to Will, "Davis’ appeal to the Supreme Court asks: ‘If the answer to the corrupting influence of campaign donations is the application of uniform limits, how can the answer to noncorrupting expenditures be found in higher limits made available only to those candidates most susceptible to corruption?’ If the court answers that question reasonably, it will accelerate the unraveling of McCain-Feingold, the most pernicious — and for incumbents, the most audaciously self-serving — law ever enacted to abridge First Amendment freedoms."