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April 16, 2014

Inhofe: Campaign finance ruling protects freedom of expression

Ada — The Supreme Court’s decision striking down overall limits on campaign contributions protects Americans’ right to support as many candidates as they like, U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe said Tuesday.

He said the decision overturned part of the Bipartisan Campaign Finance Reform Act, which limited the amount of money donors may contribute to candidates and political action committees.

“That was McCain-Feingold,” he said. “They were the ones that passed the legislation to put restrictions on what people can contribute, and I think in terms of their freedom of expression, that’s the way they express it. So I agree with the decision.”

Inhofe was referring to Sens. John McCain and Russ Feingold, the chief sponsors of the 2002 campaign finance law.

The McCain-Feingold law attempted to curb the influence of money in politics by capping the amount that any donor could give to candidates, party committees and political action committees combined. For the current election cycle, the overall limit is $123,200 — $48,600 to all candidates and $74,600 to all party committees and PACs in total.

Earlier this month, the Supreme Court struck down the overall caps. In a 5-4 decision, the court held that the limits violated donors’ free-speech rights to support multiple candidates and party committees.

Under the ruling, a donor could contribute the maximum $10,000 a year to each of their party’s state committees and still donate to candidates, national party committees and PACs.

Campaign finance wasn’t the only topic on Inhofe’s mind. He touched on a  variety of national and international issues, including the impact of budget cuts on the American military and the continuing turmoil in the Ukraine.

• On the military: Inhofe complained that President Barack Obama is weakening the United States’ ability to respond to threats by cutting military spending.

“He has himself taken out of the military $487 billion,” he said. “Right now, the sequestration, if nothing changes — his sequestration will take another half trillion out. We literally are disarmed.”

Inhofe was referring to a series of across-the-board budget cuts that took effect in 2013, known as sequestration. Lawmakers originally designed the spending cuts to grow more severe each year until the government reached its budget-cutting goal in 2021.

But Congress reached a new budget deal in late 2013, easing the impact of another round of spending cuts. The deal raised this year’s spending cap from $967 billion to $1.02 trillion and reduced sequestration cuts by $63 billion.

• The Ukraine: Inhofe said military spending cuts means the United States cannot stop Russian President Vladimir Putin’s advances in the Ukraine.

“They kind of are laughing at us because we can’t do anything,” he said.

“We don’t have the resources to be spreading ourselves out.”

Obama has vowed to impose painful economic sanctions against Russia if the Kremlin continues efforts to destabilize Ukraine. But Obama’s efforts to stop the Russian advance have met with little success.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Reach Eric Swanson at adanewsreporter@cableone.net.

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