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Supreme Court ruling could affect governor's race

Maryland’s heated primary race for governor could get another twist if Wednesday's Supreme Court decision also strikes down the state’s cap on how much residents can donate to state political campaigns.

Minutes after the Supreme Court struck down aggregate contribution limits in federal races, Jared DeMarinis’ phone at the Maryland Board of Elections began ringing off the hook.

“Everyone wants to know: What does this mean?” said DeMarinis, director of campaign finance and candidacy.

“This one does have a direct impact on Maryland,” he said. “Maryland has one of the more restrictive aggregate limits in the nation.”

DeMarinis is still thumbing through a 40-page ruling to determine whether it could invalidate Maryland’s $10,000 per-person cap on political spending. 

Limits about how much each candidate can receive from a donor remain in place, but the ruling could possibly allow donors who have already reached their aggregate limit for the election cycle to begin putting money into as many races as they want.

“The impact that this has is great, and because it's an election year, these questions need immediate answers,” he said.

The Board of Elections can’t unilaterally undo a law, but it could tell donors who have already reached the cap they are now free to donate more without facing state enforcement.

DeMarinis said he and lawyers with the attorney general’s office will review the ruling and issue a letter of guidance to donors and campaigns by April 11. 

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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