Many analysts have written a lot about the decision, with a natural focus on its direct implications for campaigns. Those are huge and important. But they are, I believe, overshadowed by the impact of the decision on corruption in America.
Some have suggested that McCutcheon was not a terribly consequential decision—that it did not really end individual contribution limits, that it was a minor adjustment post-Citizens United.Others have said that it may have a silver lining: more money to parties, more of the money disclosed. I disagree on both counts. Justice Breyer’s penetrating dissent to the decision pointed out the many methods that campaigns, parties, and their lawyers would use to launder huge contributions in ways that would make a mockery of individual limits. Chief Justice Roberts pooh-poohed them as fanciful. And, of course, they started to emerge the day after the decision.
As for disclosure, the huge amounts that will now flow in through political parties will be channeled through joint committees, state and local party committees, and others in complex ways that will make real disclosure immensely difficult, if not impossible.