Ken and Sherrilyn Fisher’s two $125,000 contributions to the Trump Victory fund will not directly flow to President Donald Trump’s re-election campaign.
The Camas couple are still bound by federal contribution limits for individuals: a combined $5,600 for the primary and general elections. That’s how much of their big contributions to the joint fundraising committee between Trump and the Republican National Committee can be directly transferred to the Trump re-election campaign.
But campaign finance critics say joint committees allow large donors to skirt contribution limits.
“This money can all be spent to benefit the candidate,” said Paul Ryan, vice president of policy and litigation for Common Cause, a Washington, D.C.-based watchdog group. “The donor is able to give well in excess of the $5,600 to Trump.”
A 2014 Supreme Court decision removed maximum limits on how much individuals can contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties and political action committees combined and ruled that so-called aggregate limits violate the First Amendment.
Democrats and Republicans have both capitalized following the court’s 5-4 decision, Ryan said. Hillary Clinton, the 2016 Democratic presidential nominee, was the most effective user of joint fundraising committees four years ago, he said.
“The huge contributions you can give to the party, combined with the use of joint fundraising committees, has significantly weakened the $2,800 per election candidate contribution,” he said. “It’s a flaw that was produced intentionally by the conservative majority of the U.S. Supreme Court and then compounded by the Democratic and Republican parties.”
Democrats running for the nation’s highest office have talked about the corrupting influence of large campaign donations while the party’s apparatus has operated much differently, Ryan said.
“The reality is that the Democratic Party has long fought against meaningful restrictions on big money and politics and has contributed directly to this problem,” he said.
Fisher, founder of Fisher Investments in Camas, is a prolific contributor to political campaigns.
According to Federal Election Commission filings, Fisher donated $342,550 to federal Republican committees last year, including $125,000 to Trump Victory. Sherrilyn Fisher donated another $323,750 to Trump Victory and other Republican committees, plus $5,600 to Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Battle Ground.
A phone message from The Columbian seeking comment from Fisher or a spokesperson was not returned.
John Oberg, Clark County Democrat Party chair, said it’s no secret why the Fishers and other wealthy donors are backing Trump’s re-election.
“They have a business interest in supporting Donald Trump, obviously,” he said.
“Financially, they deliver the weight, but people are still free to make up their minds,” Oberg said. “Ultimately, it is the vote that matters and who people get behind.”
— Jeffrey Mize