The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO

Local News

April 2, 2014

Supreme Court ruling draws mixed reaction

A Supreme Court decision that lifts the limit on aggregate campaign contributions was praised Wednesday by national and state Republican spokesmen and by a Joplin resident who is a generous donor to Republican candidates and causes.

Detractors said the ruling further shifts the political advantage to those who are wealthy or willing to make big campaign contributions.

David Humphreys, president and CEO of TAMKO Building Products, said he saw the issue decided by the court as a question of free speech.

“The First Amendment says that Congress shall make no law ... abridging the freedom of speech,” Humphreys said in a statement. “The Supreme Court got it right this time by ruling that monetary limits on free speech are in fact unconstitutional.”

Reince Priebus, chairman of the Republican National Committee, called the decision “an important first step toward restoring the voice of candidates and party committees and a vindication for all those who support robust, transparent political discourse.”

“I am proud that the RNC led the way in bringing this case and pleased that the court agreed that limits on how many candidates or committees a person may support unconstitutionally burden core First Amendment political activities,” he said. “When free speech is allowed to flourish, our democracy is stronger.”

Matt Willis, director of communications for the Missouri GOP, said the ruling comes at a time the party is targeting congressional races.

He said the previous rules would have forced GOP donors to limit giving to nine candidates, adding, “Now they can donate to all 14.”

The Humphreys family of Joplin-based TAMKO gave more than $1 million in the 2012 election cycle. But those donations did not top aggregate limits because they came from a variety of family members and went to a variety of candidates and committees.

According to the Center for Responsive Politics, David Humphreys gave $30,400 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $30,800 to the National Republican Congressional Committee, while his wife, Debra Humphreys, gave $61,200 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, and his mother, Ethelmae Humphreys, gave $28,300 to the Republican National Committee.

Other contributions went to Sen. Rand Paul and Sen. Ted Cruz, and to organizations including Club for Growth Action and Restore Our Future.

The Globe was unsuccessful in an attempt to reach another frequent GOP donor, Rudy Farber of Neosho. An assistant for Farber said he had no comment on the Supreme Court decision.

During the 2012 election cycle, Farber gave $30,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee and $10,000 to Sen. Roy Blunt. Dorothy Farber, his wife, gave $30,800 to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, $22,500 to the Republican National Committee and $5,000 to Blunt.

Among Democratic donors, Allison Hershewe, of Joplin, gave $22,500 to the Democratic National Committee and $20,000 to the Missouri Democratic State Committee. Attempts to reach her Wednesday were unsuccessful.

Doug Brooks, of Joplin, a member of the Democratic National Committee, said the Supreme Court ruling will “further increase the power of money in the political system.”

Brooks said the ruling was not as bad as an earlier high court decision (in the Citizens United case) that “allowed unlimited, untraceable donations to political action committees.”

“There will have to be disclosure, but any time you increase the power of one group to influence legislation, you’re putting someone else at a disadvantage,” Brooks said. “We should have a political system that puts everyone on an equal footing.”

Common Cause said the decision continues an effort by the high court to give Americans “a government of, by and for big money.”

The effect of the decision will be to “further open the floodgates for the nation’s wealthiest few to drown out the voices of the rest of us,” said Miles Rapoport, president of the group.

He said the decision will allow a politician to solicit a $3.6 million check for party committees and federal candidates from a singe donor, “consigning to background noise the millions of Americans who can’t afford to give more than $5, $10 or even $100 to parties or candidates of their choice.”

“It’s naive to think such vast sums of political money do not buy special access and favors,” he said.

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