G.A.B. Stops Enforcing Aggregate PAC Limits

Date

MADISON, WI – On Friday, September 5, 2014, the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin, in CRG Network v. Barland et al., issued a preliminary injunction against enforcement of Wis. Stat. §11.26(9).  This statute limits the amount of campaign contributions candidates may accept in aggregate from PACs, political parties, candidate committees and legislative campaign committees in a campaign period.

Although there is no final decision yet in the case, after conferring with the Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Government Accountability Board will not enforce these limits while this preliminary injunction is in place. 

Candidates are still limited on how much money they may accept from a single PAC or other candidate committee in accordance with Wis. Stat. §11.26(2), and from a single individual in accordance with Wis. Stat. §11.26(1).  Please see the table below.

This preliminary injunction allows a candidate to accept the maximum donation from an unlimited number of PACs.  It also allows a candidate to accept unlimited donations from political party committees and legislative campaign committees. Previously, the only limit on how much a political party committee or legislative campaign committee could contribute to a candidate was the aggregate limit (65 percent of an amount specified in state statutes).

In April 2014, the United States Supreme Court decided McCutcheon, et. al. vs. FEC, which struck down the aggregate limit on the amount of money an individual could contribute to federal candidates.  Following this decision, CRG Network filed suit arguing that the state’s aggregate limits on PACs should be struck down as well.  On Friday, September 5, 2014, Judge Rudolph Randa issued a preliminary injunction enjoining the G.A.B. from enforcing the state’s aggregate limits on PACs, political parties and legislative campaign committees contained in Wis. Stat. § 11.26(9).

This is the second federal district court decision in the wake of McCutcheon to strike down a portion of Wisconsin campaign finance law.  In May 2014, Judge Lynn Adelman issued a separate order in Young v. Vocke permanently enjoining enforcement of the $10,000 aggregate limit on campaign contributions by an individual within a calendar year contained in Wis. Stat. §11.26(4).

The net effect of these two decisions is that there are no longer any limits on the amount of money an individual may give to a Wisconsin PAC, political party or legislative campaign committee.  While the limits remain on how much a PAC may give to a candidate, there are no longer any limits on the amount of money that political parties and legislative campaign committees may give to candidates.  All contributions are still required to be reported by both the committee receiving the donation and the committees making donations.

The table below summarizes the remaining limits for individuals and single committees.   



 

Office


 

Individual Contribution Limit


Single PAC or

Candidate Committee Contribution Limit


 

Party and Legislative Campaign Committees


Governor


$10,000


$43,128


Unlimited


Lt. Governor


10,000


12,939


Unlimited


Atty. General


10,000


21,560


Unlimited


State Treasurer


10,000


8,625


Unlimited


Secretary Of State


10,000


8,625


Unlimited


State Senate


1,000


1,000


Unlimited


State Assembly


500


500


Unlimited

 

The following limits apply to individuals and committees giving to non-candidate committees:



 

Receiving Committee Type


 

Individual Contribution Limit


Single PAC or

Candidate Committee

Contribution Limit


 

Party and Legislative Campaign Committees


PAC


Unlimited


Unlimited


Unlimited


Party


Unlimited


$6,000


aggregate $150,000 / biennium


Unlimited


Legislative Campaign Committee


Unlimited


$6,000


aggregate $150,000 / biennium


Unlimited

 

 

For more information, contact

Reid Magney, Public Information Officer, 608-267-7887