State of Elections

William & Mary Law School | Election Law Society

Tag: Campaign Contribution Limits

Ninth Circuit Brings Out-of-State Donors In From The Cold

By: Ellie Halfacre

When Wes Keller ran for re-election to the Alaska House of Representatives in 2015, his brother-in-law David Thompson tried to support his candidacy and donate $500 to the campaign. However, due to §15.13.072(e)(3) of Alaska’s elections statute, he was unable to do so. Under this law, Keller’s campaign had already received the maximum dollar amount it could accept from nonresidents—$3,000—according to the state’s restrictions on campaign contributions. Thompson, a Wisconsin resident, sued, challenging Alaska’s campaign finance laws under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The law that barred Thompson’s donation, §15.13.072, specified several fundraising limitations on out-of-state donors: candidates could not accept more than $20,000 a year from nonresident donors for gubernatorial campaigns, $5,000 a year for state senate campaigns, and $3,000 a year for campaigns for state representative, or municipal or other office.

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Campaign Finance and Court Cases and Killed Bills, Oh My!: Is Oregon on the Way to Contribution Limits?

By: Laura Misch

Currently, Oregon is one of five states—along with Alabama, Nebraska, Utah, and Virginia—that allows for unlimited campaign contributions. As a result, the money has been pouring into state elections. Just last year, the gubernatorial race between Democratic incumbent Kate Brown and Republican Knute Buehler became the most expensive one in the state’s history, as contributions amounted to over $37 million. Phil Knight, a co-founder of Nike, alone donated $2.5 million to the Buehler campaign. The Oregonian also published a series called “Polluted by Money,” which found that over the last ten years corporate interests gave more money to Oregon lawmakers than any other state in the United States.

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