Don't blame me for Hillary Clinton's decision to hijack the DNC

Don't blame me for Hillary Clinton's decision to hijack the DNC
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I can’t recall anybody in politics who has been able to escape accountability for their failures and bad acts better than Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonBloomberg rolls out M ad buy to boost Biden in Florida Hillicon Valley: Productivity, fatigue, cybersecurity emerge as top concerns amid pandemic | Facebook critics launch alternative oversight board | Google to temporarily bar election ads after polls close Trump pledges to make Juneteenth a federal holiday, designate KKK a terrorist group in pitch to Black voters MORE. Whether she’s shifting the blame herself (you may have heard of a certain book she wrote detailing exactly how her 2016 election loss was everybody’s fault but her own) or allowing members of the media to do it for her, she somehow manages to never be held accountable for anything bad that happens on her watch. 

Recent articles and pundit chatter about campaign fundraising are just the latest example of this phenomenon. Some are even pushing the idea that my Supreme Court case "let Clinton hijack party fundraising.”

In the words of our president, that’s fake news.

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The case causing all this buzz is McCutcheon v. FEC, a suit that I brought in 2012 arguing that the cap on aggregate campaign donations for individual donors was a violation of free speech and unconstitutional. The Supreme Court of the United States ultimately agreed with me.

 

So let’s set the record straight, the case I brought to the Supreme Court did not create the Hillary Victory Fund. Hillary created the Hillary Victory Fund. 

My case simply says that an individual should not have to choose between which political issues he or she chooses to advance in an election cycle. It is completely arbitrary to say a person should be allowed to donate to 18 different candidates but not 19, and that’s what the law was before I challenged it.

In addition to limits on how much a person could donate to an individual candidate, Congress had also indirectly put limits on how many candidates a person could donate to. If an individual donor wanted to give the maximum to each candidate, they could only give to 18 total candidates. Seeing as how there are 535 positions in Congress, I felt it was wrong to put such an arbitrary cap on how an individual chose to voice their support.

I firmly believe that the more money injected into the political process, the livelier the debate and discussion over issues becomes. Robust public debate helps us all make more informed decisions, and that’s why I brought my case in the first place. I believe the last cycle was much more competitive, informative to the voters and entertaining with an additional $274 million more in real hard money for actual campaigns.

Who benefits most from a restriction on campaign spending? It’s not democrats or republicans, it’s incumbents from all political stripes. Incumbents enjoy the benefit of name recognition that their challengers usually have to spend money to match, and limiting the amount of money those opponents can raise only stifles debate and further entrenches the status quo. Limits on how many candidates or political causes a person wants to support therefore stifle free speech and the first amendment. The Supreme Court agreed with me, and that’s what my case was all about.

So what does any of that have to do with the Hillary Victory Fund? If you’re scratching your head trying to make the connection, you’re not alone.

Essentially, the Clinton campaign formed a new McCutcheon joint fundraising committee, JFC. They were probably wanting a way to raise more money faster from her rich and famous Hollywood and New York donors at a single fundraiser in one big check. It worked quite well according to George Clooney who had some very nice fundraiser parties. I wish I had been invited. 

 

JFCs allow checks for more money than the base limited amount they could give to her campaign specifically, in other words, much more than $10,400 for a married couple.  So they reached an agreement with the DNC and 33 state parties to form the Hillary Victory Fund where donations would be collected by the fund, distributed to their intended candidate and state parties (PACs), and then later money would be transferred back to the Democratic Party. This is possible because state Democratic parties can transfer unlimited amounts back and forth to the national DNC party. Some have described this as money laundering. Money would go into the fund, intended for a state party, and it would end up being spent on Hillary through the DNC.

That is the arrangement that some opponents find so distasteful, and that has nothing to do with my case. Under McCutcheon v. FEC, an individual donor is simply not capped in the number of candidates and political causes that he or she wants to contribute to. The Hillary Victory JFC was maybe able to raise more money than they would have if aggregate limits were still in place because the donors in on the scheme might’ve had to write smaller checks, but it is outrageous to suggest that striking down aggregate limits allowed hijacking of the DNC to occur. The arrangement was possible before but state party contributions were capped to $33,000 instead of $330,000.00 for 33. The real problem is the timing of the JFC formation which was before the convention nomination, so technically the DNC did not know who it was working for. Forming a JFC with Hillary may have been raising money for Bernie SandersBernie SandersSirota reacts to report of harassment, doxing by Harris supporters Republicans not immune to the malady that hobbled Democrats The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Facebook - Republicans lawmakers rebuke Trump on election MORE or some other candidate. Why would anyone do that without knowing the future?

At the end of the day there will always be people who abuse the campaign finance process. My case allows American voices and viewpoints that have been marginalized and ignored the freedom we need to be heard. Clinton, the DNC, and her donors jumped the gun and took advantage of rules to raise more money for Clinton. However, that doesn’t mean we should throw out the First Amendment because a candidate can’t win fairly.

With freedom comes responsibility, and just because Hillary doesn’t understand that yet doesn’t mean the rest of us should have our free speech suppressed. 

Shaun McCutcheon is an electrical engineer and successful plaintiff in the 2014 Supreme Court case McCutcheon vs. FEC