90.9 WBUR - Boston's NPR news station
Top Stories:
PLEDGE NOW
Shaun McCutcheon On McCutcheon Vs. F.E.C.

On our Oct. 9 hour on the Supreme Court’s deliberations over limits to financial contributions in Federal elections featured a variety of voices and opinions, including the opinion of the McCutcheon himself of the case’s title. Shaun McCutcheon, an Alabama businessman who has actively supported Conservative political causes in and beyond his home state and who hopes to expand the number of candidates to whom he can directly offer money, filed suit against the Federal Election Commission in order to expand the number of individual races to which he could donate money.

McCutcheon spoke with host Tom Ashbrook about his reasons for bringing his legal challenge all the way to the Supreme Court of the United States.

It’s basic freedom of speech and right to political assembly. And again, this is about donating directly to, you know, as many candidates and committees as you choose. I don’t think you all have been talking about, say, a challenger who can’t self fund, but might be a great manager in politics. The challengers are the ones that have trouble raising money because of these limitations. And A lot of the candidates I donated to did not win, so I don’t see how you can call that influence when the candidate didn’t even make it out of the primary. I’m talking about supporting more candidates, including primaries and run offs and things like that.

McCutcheon stressed that concerns over the potential for the total removal of spending limits on Federal elections as a result of his case were overblown.

 

No I do not worry. This is a case about the aggregate limits, not the base limits. The base limits and the committee rules and the PAC rules all those things that are in place take care of the corruption argument. This is about donating to more candidates and more committees and spending your money however you choose…

This is about free speech. This is about getting your message out into the marketplace of ideas. All Americans are entitled to free speech. So you know, money does not necessarily guarantee that a candidate will be elected. It just allows them to advertise,  and get their message out and allows people to get to know [sic] ‘em and hear their ideas. This is promoting and improving democracy, not limiting it. This is about changing the world for the better…

Again, all Americans are entitled to free speech. Both sides — all sides, there’s more than two — have donors who can donate and advertise. This is about free speech. More speech and more ideas is not gonna hurt anything.

McCutcheon was very concious of some public criticism about his motives in the case — several members of Congress submitted amicus curiae, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) — and stressed that his aim in the case is to expand the aggregate number of races to which a donor can contribute.

Again, this is about more candidates and more committees. If say, my ninth race was an Alabama House race and I wanted to donate to a tenth Senate race in North Carolina in both the primary and… It’s about more candidates and more committees. This is about aggregate limits, not base limits.

McCutcheon — and many court reporters, for that matter — seemed to feel that the Justices were likely to rule in his favor.

Yes I found it very interesting. The humor was in the courtroom was inspiring, it exceeded expectations. I heard a lot of great ideas. I was very impressed with the Court and the process.

What do you think? Is that what free speech ought to mean? Blast away with all the bucks you’ve got? Will this Court endorse that vision of the American democratic process? Leave your comments below, or let us know how you feel on Facebook, Tumblr or @OnPointRadio.

Please follow our community rules when engaging in comment discussion on this site.
  • Art Toegemann

    Is it proven that money determines election results? What about strategy and content? Obama won both of his presidential elections while spending less than his opponents.

    • Pointpanic

      In the larger frame of events, many corporations have been able to overturn municipal and state laws and regulations that protect workers ,public health and the environment. $$$$$$ does make a difference and does threaten our democracy.

  • Pointpanic

    So Tom is giving the mike exclusively to a well-heeled businessman who sees our First Amendment rights as a mere market commodity available to the highest bidder? How about a nhour long counterpoint from ,say, Public Citizen? or has the public been completely zapped from “public” radio?

ONPOINT
TODAY
Apr 24, 2014
Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, D-Sacramento, left, talks with Sen. Ed Hernandez, D-Covina at the Capitol in Sacramento, Calif., Monday, April 21, 2014. Hernandez proposed a constitutional amendment that would ask voters to again allow public colleges to use race and ethnicity when considering college applicants. The proposal stalled this year after backlash from Asian Americans. (AP)

California as Exhibit A for what happens when a state bans affirmative action in college admissions. We’ll look at race, college and California.

Apr 24, 2014
A Buddhist monk lights the funeral pyre of Nepalese mountaineer Ang Kaji Sherpa, killed in an avalanche on Mount Everest, during his funeral ceremony in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, April 21, 2014.  (AP)

A Sherpa boycott on Everest after a deadly avalanche. We’ll look at climbing, culture, life, death and money at the top of the world.

RECENT
SHOWS
Apr 23, 2014
Attendees of the 2013 Argentina International Coaching Federation meet for networking and coaching training. (ICF)

The booming business of life coaches. Everybody seems to have one these days. Therapists are feeling the pinch. We look at the life coach craze.

 
Apr 23, 2014
In this Thursday, Dec. 20, 2012, file photo, Chet Kanojia, founder and CEO of Aereo, Inc., shows a tablet displaying his company's technology, in New York. Aereo is one of several startups created to deliver traditional media over the Internet without licensing agreements. (AP)

The Supreme Court looks at Aereo, the little startup that could cut your cable cord and up-end TV as we’ve known it. We look at the battle. Plus: a state ban on affirmative action in college admissions is upheld. We’ll examine the implications.

On Point Blog
On Point Blog
Up At Everest Base Camp, ‘People Still Don’t Know The Ramifications’
Thursday, Apr 24, 2014

With a satellite phone call from Mount Everest’s Base Camp, climber and filmmaker David Breashears informs us that the Everest climbing season “is over.”

More »
Comment
 
The Week In Seven Soundbites: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Holy week with an unholy shooter. South Koreans scramble to save hundreds. Putin plays to the crowd in questioning. Seven days gave us seven sounds.

More »
Comment
 
Our Week In The Web: April 18, 2014
Friday, Apr 18, 2014

Space moon oceans, Gabriel García Márquez and the problems with depressing weeks in the news. Also: important / unnecessary infographics that help explain everyone’s favorite 1980′s power ballad.

More »
Comment