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With the Supreme Court's decision to lift the overall cap on campaign spending on Wednesday, Americans are now free to contribute to as many candidates as they wish. We decided to figure out the most they — you! — could spend.

Maybe you aren't worried about this, but big donors are. It used to be that the millionaires who get calls from candidates could, at some point, defer by saying they'd reached the annual limit. And with the new ruling, Politico reports, millionaire donors aren't happy to have lost that excuse. "I’m horrified, planning to de-list my phone number and destroy my email address," lobbyist Ken Kies told the site. "What I was really hoping for is a ban on lobbyists making contributions entirely." Sorry, Ken! And sorry Bernie Madoff, who complained to Politico last month about the "never ending" solicitations from politicians. 

As Bernie noted, "politicians take money from anybody — Democrats, Republicans." Because they aren't dumb. Let's say there's a prominent business owner named Charles K. And let's say Charles K. gave to the Republican running for the House in Missouri. Well, if the Democrat in that race 1) has any shot of winning and 2) has been in politics for more than five minutes, he'll call Charles K., too, suggesting that since the race could go either way, maybe Charles wants to hedge his bets.

How much could Charles be on the hook for? The Federal Election Commission sets a per-candidate donation cap at $2,600 per cycle for federal candidates. So that's $5,200 right there. But if Charles K. or, say, his brother, David K., really wanted to ensure candidates knew their names, they can now max out to everyone.

How much would that cost? We pulled the complete filing list for federal candidates this year, and figured that out. The most the K. brothers could spend on candidates is $5,296,200 — for 1,758 House candidates, 274 Senate candidates, and five active presidential campaigns. As of right now: More people could file by the end of the year.

If they only wanted to give to one party, ignoring the desperate calls of any opponents, it breaks down like this:

  • Democrats: $2,046,200
  • Republicans: $2,563,600
  • Greens: $70,200
  • Libertarians (which might appeal to the K. brothers): $254,800

Or maybe they only want to give within a state. Here's a map of how much you could spend in each state, right now.

Wondering how much you might want to spend on candidates, being thrilled that the former $123,200 limit is gone? We made a little tool to help you plan your budget for 2014. Enjoy.

The Wire's Candidate Giving Budget Tool

OK: Pick the state:

Now: Pick the party:


This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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