Citizens United Lawyer: I Hate Super PACs Too

February 1, 2012 5:38 a.m.

The Republican lawyer on the case that arguably helped pave the way for the creation of so-called “super PACs” told TPM this week that he hopes politicians will realize that the contribution limits on their campaigns are putting them at a huge disadvantage, and will pass legislation dashing such restrictions.

An odd position for a key player in the opening of the anonymous-campaign-cash floodgates to have? James Bopp Jr. says no.

“I’m very hopeful and actually expect that incumbent politicians are going to look at themselves and say we are severely handicapped” in comparison to super PACs, Bopp told TPM, arguing that political campaigns were more accountable to voters than super PACs.“It is of course possible that there would be a court decision that would effect that. But I think the more likely scenario is that members of Congress will realize they have cut their own throat,” Bopp said.

Federal law currently lets donors give $2,500 per election (including primaries) to federal candidates and $5,000 per calendar year to non-super political action committees. Bopp believes that such restrictions, put in place to prevent corruption or the appearance of corruption, need to be dashed so that campaigns are more directly accountable to voters rather than shadowy “super PACs” like the one he runs and helped establish the framework for.

“It may be raising [the contribution limits] significantly, it may be repealing them, I don’t know,” Bopp said. “But anything any step in that direction would benefit candidates and would benefit the entire system. The more money directed at candidates, the more accountable the system.”

Bopp’s own Republican Super PAC didn’t raise any money in 2011. But Bopp says everything is right on track for his “Republican Super PAC” to play a big role this election year.

“We are a general election PAC so we have not begun fundraising,” Bopp told TPM on Tuesday. “We have been making people familiar with our services and what we plan to be so basically they can put us in their plans, but we have not started fundraising because there is no election to get involved in.”

Bopp’s plan calls for donors who have “maxed out” their contributions to candidates to direct their additional funds under the theory that the ban on coordination between campaigns and independent expenditure only political action committees only applies to how the so-called super PACs spend their money, not how they raise it. The Federal Election Commission (FEC) ruled over the summer that candidates could still only ask donors to give up to $5,000 to super PACs and couldn’t solicit corporations or unions, even though such donors can legally give as much as they want. Bopp has said such a restriction is “meaningless” and that it wouldn’t hamper is efforts at all.

Bopp said campaigns wouldn’t turn to his Republican Super PAC until late spring or in the early summer, after state primaries, when donors start hitting the legal limits.

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