The Republican National Committee is jealous of super-political action committees.
That bit of envy is tucked away on page 64 of the RNC’s 97-page “autopsy” of how to right itself after failing to win the White House and a Senate majority last fall. An introduction to the campaign finance section of the RNC report says that fundraising restrictions have put state and national political parties “well on their way to the intensive care unit.”
At the same time, outside groups such as super-PACs and nonprofit groups “use unlimited, and often unreported, amounts of the same money federal candidates and national parties are now prohibited from spending or raising,” the report, released today, says.
“The result is an illogical system where candidates and their parties no longer have the loudest voices in campaigns or even the ability to determine the issues debated in campaigns. Outside groups now play an expanded role affecting federal races and, in some ways, overshadow state parties in primary and general elections.”
Thanks to a series of Supreme Court decisions and rule changes in 2010, outside groups can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations and unions and spend the money with few restrictions. No such luck for the Republican National Committee or and Democratic National Committee: Individuals are limited to giving $32,400 per year to the RNC or DNC, and corporations and unions can’t give directly to the parties at all.
Those restrictions help explain why super-PACs and nonprofits spent $890 million on last year’s federal elections — about four times as much as the parties, according to the Washington-based Center for Responsive Politics.
The RNC doesn’t mind that the courts “restored the First Amendment rights” to the outside groups; it just wants similar access for itself. Today’s report recommends that elected officials, among other things, advocate for increasing the individual giving limits and ease restrictions on how the parties spend at the state and local level.
Without those changes, the report says, the parties won’t be able to compete with outside groups. The report tracks with what Steven Law, proprietor of several powerful outside groups, observed last week at the Conservative Political Action Conference: “There are no kingmakers in the parties in the way that there used to be.”