The American – Burying the Incumbent Protection Racket

One key incumbent protection device that the Supreme Court has left standing is the restriction on political parties’ ability to help finance the campaigns of their own candidates. Current law limits party contribution to $5,000 per House candidate and $39,500 per Senate candidates (yes, those are thousands) and allows parties to coordinate spending with their candidates under different formulas for the Senate and House. The coordination limits are subject to a cost of living adjustment (COLA), which is applied to the base allowance. In 2008 the COLA was 4.25. Accordingly, party-coordinated spending with a Senate campaign in 2008 was the greater of $20,000 times the COLA ($85,000) or $0.02 times the voting age population of the state multiplied by the COLA. For example, in a state with a voting-age population of 5 million, the allowance for party-coordinated spending would be $100,000. Coordinated spending with a House campaign in 2008 was limited to $42,100.

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