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D.C. Circuit Overturns Donation Limits for Groups Doing Political Work

Online Exclusive: Challenge to Election Reform Law Fails

The landmark January Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v. FEC got its first major application in a D.C. Circuit decision striking down donation limits for individual groups advocating for candidates.

No Limits

Tara Malloy, associate legal counsel at the Campaign Legal Center, wrote an amicus brief in the case. She says the decision requires the groups and candidates to work separately, however it still allows groups to buy influence "even without quid pro quo corruption proved."

Sideways Slaps

One expected result of is a reduction of what Malloy calls "sham issue advocacy." To circumvent the contribution restrictions, groups would declare tax exempt status under Section 527 of the tax code, then run ad campaigns ostensibly about issues that really were sideways slaps at candidates. Among these groups are the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and the Voter Fund, both of which were fined for illegal activities during the 2004 presidential elections.

Paul Dailing

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