Maryland won’t enforce $10,000 cap on campaign contributions, officials announce

Maryland will no longer enforce its law that limits donors to giving $10,000 to state candidates during a single election cycle, elections officials said Friday, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling last week.

A memo distributed by the State Board of Elections said individuals and corporations are still bound by a state law that caps contributions to individual candidates at $4,000. But in light of the court’s decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission, the overall limit on what donors can give during a four-year cycle is no longer enforceable, the memo said.

The high court ruled that such limits violate constitutional protections of free speech.

“Therefore, a person may make an unlimited aggregate amount of total contributions, but not in excess of $4,000 to any one political committee,” the state election board memo said.

The state guidance takes effect immediately and has the potential to infuse Maryland’s 2014 elections with significantly more cash. The state has competitive races for governor and attorney general this year, and all 188 seats in the state legislature are on the ballot. Counties and municipalities are holding elections as well.

Maryland has had one of the lowest overall caps on giving in the nation, according to election officials.

“The mind-set of contributors may change,” said Jared DeMarinis, director of the division of candidacy and campaign finance at the State Board of Elections.

While the $10,000 cap will remain part of Maryland law, the state board has no intention of enforcing it unless future court decisions shift direction, DeMarinis said.

The state board’s memo does not affect political action committees in Maryland, which have been limited to giving $6,000 per candidate but not been subject to an overall cap.

The memo was produced with the advice of the attorney general’s office, elections officials said.

John Wagner has covered Maryland government and politics for The Post since 2004.
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