U.S. Supreme Court strikes down overall campaign contribution limits

The U.S. Supreme Court building in Washington.

Representatives of South Carolina's two major political parties say a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down a campaign contribution cap meant for the truly rich probably won't matter much here.

"These are people who want to contribute to national candidates," said former S.C. Democratic Party chairman Dick Harpootlian of the $123,000 cap meant to influence broad federal issues and races.

"Unless you're the Koch brothers, this doesn't affect you," he added.

Harpootlian guessed "zero" as the number of South Carolina Democrat-aligned donors who are affected.

Across the aisle, South Carolina Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore also said only a handful of GOP givers in the state would be affected as well.

Moore did say that he thought the decision was the right one, calling it "a victory for free speech and transparency."

Under the old law, donors affected by caps might push their money into political action committees or other groups that could try to hide their activities, Moore said. The Wednesday ruling striking the cap means that's less likely, he added.

National figures say only about 650 donors contributed the maximum amount allowable in the last election cycle in regard to donations covered by the ruling.

The Center for Responsive Politics, meanwhile, reported the number of South Carolina donors from the 2012 cycle who might have been affected by the ruling may have been as low as just three people who fit the category of "limit hitters."

Wednesday's ruling essentially eliminates the overall campaign contribution cap covering federally targeted election issues. It previously had prevented individual donors from giving more than $123,000 to candidates and party committees in an election cycle, usually about two years.

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The 5-4 decision follows the logic that campaign donations are considered a form of free speech and electoral participation.

Not affected by the decision is the contribution limit per individual candidate, at $2,600 per election.

Reach Schuyler Kropf at 937-5551