The Edmond Sun

April 8, 2014

Guild: Ruling skews political process toward rich

Special to The Sun

OKLA. CITY — EDITOR’S NOTE: This is one in a series of stories about candidates seeking the 5th District Congressional seat. Other candidates who have announced plans to file for the office April 9-11 are Corporation Commissioner Patrice Douglas, Sen. Clark Jolley, Rep. Mike Turner, Rep. Shane Jett and Harvey Sparks on the GOP side. Other Democrats who announced for the seat are state Sen. Al McAffrey, Keith Davenport and Marilyn Rainwater.

Congressional 5th District candidate Tom Guild said last week’s Supreme Court ruling on campaign finance will skew politics in support of the super-wealthy and weaken the voices of millions of Americans. The ruling poses a danger to American democracy, he said.

Last week’s 5-4 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court removed a restriction that excluded individuals from contributing to more than one federal candidate during a two-year election cycle. This ruling did not change any individual’s base contribution limit of giving no more than $2,600 per individual candidate during a primary or general election.

Chief Justice John Roberts stated for the majority that, overall caps were a burden to “an individual’s right to participate in the public debate through political expression and political association.”

Following the corruption of the Watergate scandal of the Nixon administration, Congress passed a campaign reform finance law in 1974. Statutory limits were placed on political contributions. This resulted in the creation of the Federal Election Commission.

“So it’s going to affect very few people, but those very few people theoretically could give the maximum donation to a congressional candidate, including House and Senate, multiple presidential candidates and really the sky is the limit,” said Guild, D-Edmond.

The ruling says the $48,600 cap every two years by individuals giving to all federal candidates violated the First Amendment. Separate aggregate limits of $74,000 on contributions to political party committees is also unconstitutional, the court stated.

The Supreme Court is enabling wealthy individuals to contribute freely to their favorite candidates in each of the 435 House of Representative races in the U.S., said Guild, a retired University of Central Oklahoma professor of legal studies.

Guild said the 2010 Citizens United ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, that corporations are people for purposes of speech, led the way for last week’s court decision.

“In our campaign, our average contribution is $46,” Guild said. “For our biggest contribution, I believe we have four or five people that have given us $500.”

Former state Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, said the Citizens United ruling reinforced the Constitution of the United States of America. An association of individuals are still individuals that have the right of freedom of expression, Russell said.

“I believe the Supreme Court got it right,” Russell said. “Associations of individuals had just as much right to freedom of speech as a single individual, whether they were many or they were one.”

Last week’s campaign finance decision has determined that an individual cannot be limited in their expression, Russell said.

“Why should we express limitations on you on how much you want to express your views in the support of political issues or political candidates that are running for office?” Russell said. “I think they got it right.”