Political Contribution Limits Hiked

Consumers aren’t the only ones getting hit by inflation. Campaign donors will also feel its effect as candidates and political parties raise money for the 2006 elections.

The Federal Election Commission on Thursday raised donation limits to compensate for inflation, the first time it has done so. That means congressional candidates and national party committees can now ask donors for more money.

The change comes under a 2002 campaign finance law that raised donation limits for candidates and parties starting in 2003 and ordered the FEC to adjust the caps every two years according to the inflation rate.

FEC Vice Chairman Michael Toner said the adjustments would ensure “the same purchasing power for candidates and political parties as time goes on.”

“I think it’s a very positive development,” Toner said. “When the original limits were established in the 1970s they weren’t indexed for inflation, and they became severely eroded over time.”

Under the new limits, congressional candidates can raise $2,100 for their primary campaigns and another $2,100 for general-election campaigning from each individual donor. Previously, candidates could only ask individual givers for up to $2,000 for the primaries and another $2,000 for the general election.

National political party committees can now ask individuals to give up to $26,700 a year, an increase of $1,700 over the old limit.

The FEC also raised the overall amount an individual donor can give on the federal level.

A contributor can now make a total of $101,400 in congressional, party and political action committee donations during the 2005-06 election cycle. The previous two-year limit was $95,000.

The commission will index contribution limits for inflation again in 2007, when the next crop of presidential candidates can begin raising money.

On the Net:

Federal Election Commission: http://www.fec.gov