Rhode Island’s cap on combined campaign donations may be on the way out.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that federal-level aggregate limits on how much money a donor can contribute across all politicians, parties and PACs (as opposed to the limits on how much can be contributed to each one) are unconstitutional. Rhode Island is one of eight states that also has its own aggregate limit on state-level contributions, U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts noted in his decision.
Rhode Island law currently caps the amount that can be donated to candidates, party committees and PACs to $10,000 a year. While Wednesday’s Supreme Court ruling did not itself throw out Rhode Island’s state-level limit, the R.I. Board of Elections says it may not defend them in court if they get challenged.
“In light of the Supreme Court finding that limits on individual aggregate contributions are unconstitutional, the Board of Elections has requested its legal counsel to review Rhode Island’s current statutory limit of $10,000,” Robert Kando, the board’s executive director, told WPRI.com on Thursday.
Kando said he expects the issue will be addressed at the board’s next meeting on April 16.
John Marion, executive director of Common Cause Rhode Island, said he would prefer to see the Board of Elections try to defend the state’s aggregate limits “rather than wave the white flag.”
“The Supreme Court’s decision is disappointing, and its like impact on Rhode Island is disappointing,” Marion told WPRI.com. “Of course we would like the state limit – which we feels serves the public interest – to stand, but given yesterday’s strong opinion we’d expect it wouldn’t withstand a challenge.”
Dropping the aggregate limits would allow a donor to give maximum $1,000 contributions to as many candidates, party committees and PACs as he or she wanted each year.