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Michael Toner Discusses Increase in Outside Group Spending in American Elections

Financial Times
May 19, 2014

Michael E. Toner, co-chair of Wiley Rein’s Election Law & Government Ethics Practice, was quoted in a Financial Times article published today about the significant increase in outside group spending in recent years in connection with political races across the country.

According to the article, spending by non-profit organizations and trade associations has been on the rise and may surpass $1 billion for November’s midterm elections.  Unlike federal campaigns committee and Super PACs, these organizations are generally not required to publicly disclose their donors in filings made to the Federal Election Commission (FEC) or the Internal Revenue Service.  The article noted that political spending by these entities during the 2014 midterm election cycle thus far is three times the amount spent during the 2012 presidential campaign and 17 times the amount spent during the 2010 election season.  “This is really a perfect storm of political spending,” said Mr. Toner, former chairman of the FEC.

Legislation enacted in 2002 to restrict campaign donations has been weakened by a series of court rulings in recent years, according to the article.  “Efforts to reduce spending and level the playing field have not been very effective,” Mr. Toner said.  “Money will always find a way into the electoral process.”