NASHVILLE – Tennessee Republicans are rushing through a bill that further opens the floodgates of corporate money into the political process. This bill eliminates protections that curb the influence of special interests by eliminating aggregate limits that prohibit candidates from receiving more than 50 percent or $75,000 of their funds from special interest PACs.
“This is just another in a long line of efforts by Republican leadership to loosen consumer protections and auction off the state to the highest bidder,” said Chip Forrester, Chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party. “The disastrous results of Citizens United should have shown the GOP the dangerous effect unlimited money can have on the political process. But instead of learning their lessons, they want to make Tennessee politics more like Washington politics.”
The bill, HB3281/SB3645 sponsored by Rep. Maggart and Sen. Watson, is up in the House State and Local Committee today, after having passed through the Senate on party line votes. The effect of removing the PAC aggregate limits will be that state and local officials will be able to raise 100 percent of their funds from special interest-driven Political Action Committees, which limits the impact individuals can have on the political process. Additionally, the bill repeals rules that prohibit insurance companies from donating to candidates for office.
“Special interests are already drowning out working and middle class families from the political process,” said Forrester. “Instead of focusing on creating jobs and improving the economy for middle class families, the Republican legislature is more concerned with filling their campaign coffers with special interest money and rewarding their campaign contributors with rules and regulations that hurt the people of Tennessee.”
HB3281/SB3645 Removes § 2-10-302(c)
(c) With respect to contributions from multicandidate political campaign committees for each election:
(1) No candidate for an office elected by statewide election shall accept in the aggregate more than fifty percent (50%) of the candidate’s total contributions from multicandidate political campaign committees; and
(2) No candidate for any other state or local public office shall accept in the aggregate more than seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) from multicandidate political campaign committees.
In determining the aggregate limits established by this subsection (c), contributions made to a candidate by a committee controlled by a political party on the national, state, or local level or by a caucus of such political party established by members of either house of the general assembly are not included.
HB1003/SB1915 passed last year opened the door for corporations to donate directly to candidates.