In a recent Arizona Republic article reporting on political giving by Indian Tribes, the author writes that Tribes, "aren’t limited in the amounts of money they can contribute," and then quotes James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington, D.C. saying, "It is perhaps the last frontier of essentially unregulated campaign cash contributions."
To set the record straight: First, while Indian Tribes, like Political Action Committees (PACs), have no total limit on their giving, they are limited to giving no more than $2,100 to any one candidate, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. Sec. 441a.
Second, pursuant to 2 U.S.C. Section 441g, they are not allowed to make cash contributions.
Tribes are regulated, their contributions are not unlimited, and they do not make "cash" contributions. Good policy starts with good facts, but in the current hysteria to “do something” about the Abramoff scandal, good facts are getting lost in the shuffle.
Bradley A. Smith is former chairman of the Federal Election Commission and a Goldwater Institute Senior Fellow.