U.S. Supreme Court Loosens Campaign Donor Rules - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

U.S. Supreme Court Loosens Campaign Donor Rules

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BOZEMAN -

The nation's high court loosens it rein on big campaign donors.

A ruling Wednesday by the U.S. Supreme Court effectively removes federal limits on the overall contributions individuals can make to candidates, parties and political action committees.

The U.S. Supreme Court's 5-4 ruling in the case of McCutcheon v. the Federal Elections Commission strikes down limitations on how much someone can donate to a candidate, party or political action committee.

The decision sparked controversy right away between people who say caps on donations equal the playing field and those who believe they can donate as much money as they want to campaigns.

Before now, one person could give no more than just over $123,000, $48,600 to all candidates and $74,600 to all parties and political action groups during an election cycle.

During the 2011 2012 election cycle, only 646 Americans donated that amount.

Now, one person can give more than $3.6 million.

Governor Steve Bullock, and many other democrats, said now elections can be bought more easily.

"It's disappointing the court's majority once again issued a ruling that seeks to turn our elections into auctions," Bullock said in a statement.  "I wish I could say that I'm surprised, but I'm not." 

But many republicans applauded the decision, saying the ruling protects Americans' right to freedom of speech.

"I respect the role that the Supreme Court holds in protecting our First Amendment rights and believe today's decision was made with that protection in mind," Congressman Steve Daines said in a statement.

Montana state representative Daniel Zonikov agrees.

"It allows a person do donate to whoever they want," said Zonikov. "They have the right to donate to every single candidate of a party or nobody and I don't think that should be limited."

Wednesday's ruling does not change the total amount an individual can contribute to a single candidate, for congress or for president,  per election cycle.

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