Essay on Campaign Financing

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The first main attempt to regulate campaign financing occurred in 1971 with the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). The act set requirements for disclosure of contributions to federal campaigns, both presidential and congressional. The main regulation to financing occurred though after its amendment in 1974. After reports of big financial abuses in the 1972 presidential election and the Watergate scandal, people wanted more constraints on financing particularly those from special interest groups. The act required strict disclosure of campaign donations. Candidates had to name all contributors who donated more than $200 a year. They also set up contribution limits and expenditure limits. Individuals could not contribute more than $1,000 …show more content…
In 1976, the Supreme Court heard the case of Buckley v. Valeo challenging the Federal Election Campaign Act. The main question was if the limits placed on electoral expenditures by the act violated the First Amendment’s freedom of speech and association clauses (The Oyez Project). The Court came to two conclusions. First it said the restrictions on individual contributions to campaigns and candidates did not violate the First Amendment. It actually said that it enhances the system of representative democracy by capping large contributions that could be potentially corrupting. The Court found that the FECA did violated the First Amendment in its restriction of independent expenditures in campaigns, expenditures by candidates from their personal resources, and on total campaign expenditures in both presidential and congressional elections. Since they found no harm or potential for corruption in these areas they did not deem it warranted to restrict free speech and association. In their decision, the Court came to equate money with speech. The McCain-Feingold Act of 2002 focused on two major pillars. First a ban on party soft money and second the regulation of electioneering communications (Mann, Money in 2008, 2008, pg 49). The ban on soft money prohibited national parties from raising or spending nonfederal funds, which eliminated the way to get around hard money

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