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The Peter Buttenwiesers and Christine Torettis of the world just got a whole lot more popular.
, the Philadelphia financier who was finance chairman for U.S. Sen. Bob Casey Jr. s 2012 re-election campaign, and , an Indiana County oil and gas drilling heiress who is finance co-chair of the Republican National Committee, are two of the nation s most generous political campaign contributors albeit for their respective political parties.
But after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted the cap on individual donors Wednesday, the deep pocketed duo and the nation s smattering of other truly moneyed donors are sure to get a lot more phone calls from solicitous political candidates.
There s a handful of donors who are changing their phone numbers and emails today because the federal max no longer prohibits them from giving, said Aubrey Montgomery, a Philadelphia-based Democratic fundraiser. Just because they can write a 0,000 check doesn t mean they'll turn around and write a 0,000 check next year.
In the past, the cap limited how much one donor could give in total per election cycle. That also effectively restricted the pool of money available to campaigns from affluent donors.
The Obama machine, very early last cycle, had tied up every donor s party limit, Montgomery said. This was an issue of consternation for a lot of people in the party.
But Wednesday s ruling lifts the individual donor cap in each federal election cycle, while leaving limits on how much donors can give to a specific candidate, party or PAC.
Mike DeVanney, a Pittsburgh-based GOP campaign consultant who fundraises for U.S. Rep. Scott Perry, R-York County, argued that the ruling wouldn t affect congressional candidates in any significant way.
That s not the case, however, for the giving reality of very wealthy donors.
For the net worth donors, this ruling is a blessing and a curse, DeVanney said. In the past those donors could say they ve already met their aggregate limit. Now they will no longer have that excuse. The converse to that is they certainly will be able to support a larger number of candidates.
Another likely change is that local congressional campaigns will be increasingly affected by funds from out of state.
It will certainly bring more dollars to the process and most likely more out of state dollars as well, said Chris Bravacos, a Harrisburg GOP consultant and former executive director of the Pennsylvania Republican Party.
It opens up, for those who have the means, to participate much more broadly, Bravacos added. And there are those around the country that have looked for ways to participate.
But that broad campaign participation could affect the political process in ways the high court has not anticipated, argued T.J. Rooney, chairman of the Katie McGinty gubernatorial campaign and a former chairman of the Pennsylvania Democratic Party.
For a fundraiser it s Mardi Gras, Rooney said. But for the rest of us it has the potential to be game changing.
There s something unseemly about politicians gravitating to a particular individual with their hat-in-hand ready to say and do particular things to engender their support, he added. Democrats are as guilty of it as Republicans are, but what I fear is the net effect of individuals overtaking the collective will.
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