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High court ruling sets off race for bigger campaign donations

| Sunday, April 13, 2014, 4:57 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Political parties, election lawyers and some donors are racing to capitalize on the Supreme Court's recent decision striking down the overall limits on what wealthy contributors can give to candidates, parties and political action committees.

Republican officials recently introduced the Republican Victory Fund, a campaign vehicle that will allow a single donor to contribute nearly $100,000 to be split among the Republican National Committee and the two GOP campaign committees working on House and Senate races.

The goal of the joint fundraising plan is to “maximize our donations to help candidates win in November,” Kirsten Kukowski, a Republican National Committee spokeswoman, wrote in an email.

The Supreme Court's decision maintained limits on how much an individual can give to one party or candidate but tossed out the aggregate caps that barred a single donor from giving more than $48,600 to all federal candidates and $74,600 to political parties and PACs in this election cycle.

The Republican Party filed its paperwork with federal regulators less than a week after the high court's ruling April 2 in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission that declared the overall cap on contributions violated the free speech rights of political activists to spread their donations to as many candidates and party committees as they liked.

The Republican National Committee was among the plaintiffs challenging the overall limits.

State laws have started to fall.

Two states have abandoned their overall contribution limits to comply with the ruling: Massachusetts immediately dropped its $12,500 annual limit on what an individual can donate to all candidates for state, county and local offices. On Friday, Maryland election officials announced they will no longer enforce the state's $10,000 limit on what individuals could give to all state candidates in a four-year election cycle.

Both states are home to governors' races this year.

In the end, laws in as many as 18 states and the District of Columbia may be vulnerable to challenge.

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