2 Main Sources of Funding
Department of the
Estimated Spending Voter Turnout Spending/Voter
1960 $175 million 68.8 million $2.25/voter
1964 $200 million 70.6 million $2.83/voter
1968 $300 million 73.2 million $4.10/voter
1972 $425 million 77.7 million $5.47/voter
1976 $540 million 81.6 million $6.62/voter
1980 $1.2 billion 86.6 million $13.87/voter
1984 $1.8 billion 92.7 million $19.42/voter
1988 $2.7 billion 91.6 million $29.48/voter
1992 $3.2 billion 104.4 million $30.65/voter
1996 $4.0 billion 96.5 million $41.45/voter
2000 $5.1 billion 105.4 million $48.39/voter
2004 $6.0 billion 120.2 million $49.92/voter
quot;The only way we have to truly level the playing field, both between candidates and
parties of the opposing ideologies, and more importantly between new candidates
and incumbents, is to commit the resources to the process of getting people
elected. Not until we create a campaign system with a shorter and more intense
campaign period‐‐‐something I think the public would truly applaud‐‐‐funded with
finite and equal resources available to all candidates will we be able to really listen
carefully to what the people want. quot;
‐‐‐Senator Maria Cantwell (D Washington)
What are the advantages and disadvantages to her proposal?
Reform Effort #1:
The Federal Campaign Act (1971)
‐‐‐Limited the amount candidates could spend on mass media advertising including T.V.
‐‐‐Limited the amount that candidates could contribute to themselves
‐‐‐Required campaigns to disclose all contributions and expenditures over $100
‐‐‐Provided for a voluntary $1 check off on tax returns to finance public funding of campaigns
Additions to the Federal Campaign Act (1974)
‐‐‐Created the Federal Elections Commission which enforces election laws
‐‐‐Provided public funding for presidential primaries and general elections
‐‐‐Limited contributions from individuals to $1000/candidate in each federal election or primary; set an
upper limit on $25,000 from an individual to all candidates
‐‐‐Limted contributions from groups to $5000/candidate in any election
Challenge to the FECA
Buckley v. Valeo (1976) : The Supreme Court ruled that limiting campaign contributions limited protected speech
and was therefore unconstitutional.
The Court DID allow limitations on direct contributions to candidates. ( HARD MONEY )
The Court did NOT allow limitations on how much candidates could spend on their own campaigns or how much
they could contribute to themselves.
The Court did NOT allow limitations on money spent on behalf of a candidates. (
SOFT MONEY )
The LOOPHOLE that was created: SOFT MONEY
Soft money was unregulated so PACs began to raise and spend soft money in record breaking
amounts: issues ads, direct mailings, get out the vote drives.
1980: $19 million in soft money | 1996: $260 million | $500 million in 2000
Wealthy donors give to a PACS give to candidates
PAC (must be at least (must be at least 5).
Reform Effort #2:
The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) (2002)
‐‐‐Bans large, unlimited contributions to national political parties: SOFT MONEY
‐‐‐Curbs the use campaign ads by outside organizations (30 days before a primary and 60 days before a
‐‐‐Increased the amount individuals can give to an individual candidate to $2,000 and raised the amount an
individual can give to all candidates over a two year period to $95,000.
‐‐‐Allowed soft money contributions to state and local parties.
Challenges to the BCRA
McConnell v. F.E.C. (2003) : The Supreme Court upheld the BCRA.
The LOOPHOLES that were created: 527s like Moveon.org and Swift Boat Veterans for Truth
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