Gratitude and Influence

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) appeared at the Supreme Court today to listen as his lawyer Bobby Burchfield urged the Court to, essentially, invalidate all contribution limits.

The Court held oral arguments today in McCutcheon v. FEC, a challenge to the cap on what individuals can give, overall, to federal candidates, party committees and traditional political action committees (PACs). The Court granted Sen. McConnell's request that his views be presented as well, which go much further than the arguments in the case.

With his client, the Senate Minority Leader, looking on, Burchfield said, "Gratitude and influence are not considered to be quid pro quo corruption," minimizing the possibility of corruption but giving up the game on what money buys.

That's "gratitude" from recipients, like Sen. McConnell (and other elected officials), towards donors, who in McConnell's view should be able to give unlimited sums of money directly to candidates. And it's influence wielded by those donors, whose large donations the politicians depend on for maintaining their jobs.

We don't need a quid, a pro, or a quo, when there's "gratitude and influence." How does the gratitude get expressed, beyond a thank you note? Well, it's when the influence exerted by large donors works. That's corruption.

This is not McConnell taking a principled position -- he's arguing that what fixes a broken Washington is placing elections entirely into the hands of those who can write six and seven-figure checks. That's just wrong.