On Monday, the Republican National Committee announced their comprehensive strategy to “grow the Party and improve Republican campaigns.” In nearly 100 pages, the keenly titled report, ‘Growth and Opportunity Project,’ covers the full spectrum of the Republican strategy to reclaim the Senate and White House.
In particular, the section covering campaign finance mentions the waning influence of parties in successive election cycles:
“Recent election cycles have seen a troubling diminishment of the role of political parties and even candidates themselves in our democracy. The national and state political parties are well on their way to the intensive care unit.”
Consequently, the report calls for both Republicans and Democrats to work in an effort to strengthen partisan control over elections.
Reducing barriers between federal and state party spending was the primary proposition. Currently the Federal Elections Commission requires that donations to a national political party be used for just that, the national party.
Preventing donations from being used in a local election is a clear hindrance for national parties to tip the scales in favor of one establishment candidate.
Likewise, the report calls explicitly for increasing the contribution limits to candidates. Currently capped at $123,000, an individual donor can spend up to that amount every other year:
“Increase contribution limits for federal campaigns. In the age of Super PACs and other such organizations, the contribution limits to federal candidates must be increased so candidates have more control of the message and voters have a better understanding of the view points of candidates rather than of third-party groups”
In order to enact this ideal vision for regulating campaign finance — or rather deregulating it — the RNC will be seeking model legislation developed in partnership with groups like the Republican State Leadership Commission, the largest caucus of Republican elected officials in the country, or the American Legislative Exchange Council.
ALEC is a business-oriented 501(c)3 non-profit that produces model legislation, often to controversial reception.
A significant revelation noted in the report is the apparent disadvantage parties are at when considering the unlimited spending potential given to outside, supposedly ‘independent’ groups like President Obama’s Organizing for Action or Carl Rove’s American Crossroads.
“[C]urrent campaign finance law diminishes the role of national political parties and does not allow them to participate on level terms with third-party groups.”
All parties — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, etc — are at a significant disadvantage when up against the unlimited capabilities of a Super PAC. Yet, the report fails to point out that the majority of Super PACs are geared towards, and even run by, either Democrats or Republicans.
The fact that organizations that are officially unconnected to a candidate’s campaign are given free reign to spend unlimited sums influencing elections has been a concern for candidates of any stripe since Citizens United was decided in 2010.
However, more money, higher contribution limits, and legally challenging existing regulations is the Republican solution to campaign finance reform.