RNC challenges federal campaign finance laws

Congressional Quarterly reports that the Republican National Committee has filed a lawsuit challenging federal campaign finance limits on its contribution of cash to state-level candidates.

If the RNC is successful, it could open the door to a far greater involvement of the national party in California’s 2010 gubernatorial race along with the hotly contested gubernatorial races in New Jersey and Virginia mentioned in CQ’s story.

Click here to read the full story but here are the first few paragraphs. I added the emphasis on the sentence in bold.

The Republican National Committee is asking a federal court to restore the ability of national parties to raise unlimited amounts of money and to spend it to help elect state-level candidates.

The case focuses on hotly contested governor’s races in New Jersey and Virginia. The 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign financing law (PL 107-155) does not allow national parties to give money directly to state candidates. The RNC wants to change that so it can expressly back the party nominee for governor, advertise and send out mailings on behalf of state or local Republican candidates and make get-out-the-vote calls.

The law also bans the parties from taking unlimited big-dollar contributions from corporations, unions and wealthy donors – a type of donation known as “soft money” – and the RNC wants to reverse that as well.

The case will be heard Aug. 27 by a three-judge panel of the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, and the ruling could be appealed straight to the Supreme Court.

An RNC victory would deal a major blow to the landmark campaign finance law named for Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, and open the door to a more prominent role for the national parties in state-level races.

Republicans say the law violates the First Amendment by preventing national parties from helping state-level candidates.

Lisa Vorderbrueggen