“U.S. District Court Strikes Down Kentucky Campaign Finance Law that Let Individuals Give More to Democratic and Republican Committees than Committees of Other Parties”


On June 6, 2017, U.S. District Court Judge William O. Bertelsman, a Carter appointee, struck down a Kentucky campaign finance contribution limit that discriminated in favor of the Republican and Democratic Parties, and against all other parties. Shickel v Dilger, e.d., 2:15cv-155. The law, sec. 121.015(3)(b), said that individuals could give $5,000 to a “caucus campaign committee”, which was defined as: “members of the following caucus groups who receive contributions and make expenditures to support or oppose one or more specific candidates or slates of candidates for nomination or election, or a committee: 1. House Democratic caucus campaign committee; 2. House Republican caucus campaign committee; 3. Senate Democratic caucus campaign committee; and 4. Senate Republican caucus campaign committee.”

Because the law specifically names Republican and Democratic committees, and gives them the ability to receive $5,000 contributions, the law is discriminatory. Individuals generally can only give $1,000 to a candidate for state or local office, so a $5,000 contribution limit for contributions to these Democratic and Republican committees is valuable. UPDATE: starting July 1, 2017, that candidate limit goes from $1,000 to $2,000, due to a bill that passed the legislature earlier this year.

The case was filed on August 24, 2015, and was argued on January 10, 2017. Two of the three plaintiffs are Libertarian candidates. The third plaintiff is a Republican State Senator, John Shickel. Shickel did not complain about section 121.015(3)(b). His part of the case challenged another law that made it illegal for a lobbyist to give anything whatsoever to a legislator. That law was also struck down, partly because it is vague and, if taken literally, almost absurdly draconian. The decision mentions it might even apply to a drink of water. Thanks to Ken Moellman for this news


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