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Michael Toner Comments on the $6 Billion Election

BBC
August 13, 2012

Wiley Rein Election Law & Government Ethics Practice co-chair Michael Toner was interviewed by BBC News for a story on political fundraising in the 2012 election cycle.

The BBC reported that “new figures just released by the Center for Responsive Politics, an independent research group which tracks money in politics, estimate the total cost of November's elections (for the presidency, House of Representatives and Senate) will come in at $5.8bn — more than the entire annual GDP of Malawi, and up 7% on 2008.”

"The sky is the limit here,” said Mr. Toner, former chair of the Federal Election Commission.  “I don't think you can spend too much. Americans last year spent over $7 billion on potato chips — isn't the leader of the free world worth at least that?”

To rein in spending, rules would have to be changed to limit money going to Super PACs, which can collect unlimited contributions to finance independent expenditures in connection with federal elections.  Mr. Toner stated that any effort to restrict spending would most likely need a constitutional amendment and the undertaking to accomplish that would be both “very difficult” and “highly ill-advised.”