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Campaign Finance Reform
Transcript of Campaign Finance Reform
Campaign Finance Reform
Naturally, this is a law about campaign finance reform -- fixing the way money makes its way into campaigns
Also known as "McCain-Feingold"
Senator John McCain (R-AZ)
Senator Russell Feingold (D-WI)
Interestingly enough, the version of the bill that became law is the one introduced in the House by Christopher Shays (R-CT) and Martin Meehan (D-MA)
A long, long time ago, in the 1970s...
Candidates could take as much money from individual givers as they wanted
Richard Scaife donated $990,000 to Richard Nixon's campaign in 1972
The Watergate scandal helped to push for campaign finance reform
Congress enacted the Federal Election Campaign Act amendments (FECA) in 1974
FECA limited campaign contributions and spending
FECA established a system of public funding for presidential campaigns
This established the Federal Election Commission (FEC)
"hard money:" money contributed under FECA regulations is considered hard money, since it is subject to a "hard" limit
FEC is an independent agency that administers federal election laws. They keep records of campaign contributions; all contributions over $100 must be reported
Congress uses tax dollars to match first $250 of each individual contribution that an eligible Presidential candidate receives during primary campaign (up to half of national primary spending limit)
Finance major (and third) parties' national conventions and general election campaigns
Candidates who accept public funds are bound by spending limits
Buckley v. Valeo (1976) -- a first amendment case partially striking down FECA on free-speech grounds
Individual contributions may be subject to federally-imposed limits
The following are NOT subject to limits:
total spending on campaigns
Two important provisions
Corporations and labour unions may not contribute directly, but they may set up political action committees (PACs)
Another FECA-created loophole: "soft money," which is money raised and spent by state and local parties for party-building, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote activities
Under FECA, citizens can give unlimited amounts to party organisations. It can't be spent on federal campaigns, but can be spent on a state portion of a campaign effort
More reform: McCain and Feingold
McCain and Feingold sought to close loopholes to soft money
issue advocacy ads are campaign ads that do not use the terms "elect," "vote for," or "support," and is thus not subject to FECA's limits
Soft money donations to political parties are banned
Issue advocacy ads are limited within 60 days of an election
Legal challenges to McCain-Feingold
McConnell v. FEC (2003) upheld most of BCRA
Citizens United struck down ban on "electioneering communications" (i.e., issue advocacy ads). In other words, corporate spending on political ads cannot be limited, since that's protected speech under the First Amendment
Citizens United v. FEC (2010) struck down BCRA provisions
...and that's where we are now
...and like this
independent expenditure: spending independent of a campaign or candidate committee
But wait! There's more...
The Supreme Court agreed in 2013 to hear a new campaign finance reform case: McCutcheon v. FEC
The argument: while limits on corporate spending violate the First Amendment, individuals should be allowed to contribute unlimited aggregate amounts each election cycle
Sheldon Adelson, billionaire and owner of Las Vegas Sands Corporation, donated more than $30 million to Republican candidates in 2012 alone
He said he is "against very wealthy people attempting to or influencing elections. But as long as it's doable I'm going to do it. Because I know that guys like Soros have been doing it for years, if not decades. And they stay below the radar by creating a network of corporations to funnel their money. I have my own philosophy and I'm not ashamed of it. I gave the money because there is no other legal way to do it. I don't want to go through ten different corporations to hide my name. I'm proud of what I do and I'm not looking to escape recognition" (Forbes Magazine)
Adelson owns the Venetian
Charles Koch, billionaire and CEO of Koch Industries, raised money to directly and indirectly support Mitt Romney's campaign, as well as conservative think-tanks such as the Cato Institute
Jeffrey Katzenberg, CEO of Dreamworks, raised $15 million for President Barack Obama in a May, 2012 event at George Clooney's house. Katzenberg donated millions to Obama's 2008 and 2012 campaigns, directly and through PACs
McCutcheon v. FEC
The Supreme Court removed the limit on *overall* candidate contributions
Or, "A Prezi about..."
The Bi-Partisan Campaign Finance Reform Act of 2002
An independent government agency that administers and enforces election finance laws
The Federal Election Commission
"Citizens United," and this movie
Ann Ravel is the current chair
Haven't seen it? Here's a trailer
Wednesday, April 2, 2014
I still don't understand...
McCutcheon can only donate $2,600 per candidate in any election, and $48,600 to candidates in a two-year election cycle. That means 18 candidates ($2,600 x 18 = $48,600). What if he wanted to support 19 candidates? Not so bad, right? What if the Supreme Court then removed all aggregate limits, then what would happen with all donations to candidates?
In case you were wondering, Obama and Romney spent $2 *billion* combined in 2012. They also declined federal funding.
"Congress may target only a specific type of corruption—‘quid pro quo’ corruption . . . Spending large sums of money in connection with elections, but not in connection with an effort to control the exercise of an officeholder’s official duties, does not give rise to quid pro quo corruption. Nor does the possibility that an individual who spends large sums may garner ‘influence over or access to’ elected officials or political parties"
...that's *actually* where we are now
New limits! Yay!!
Is a lot of money spent on political campaigns?
Should this be regulated, or limited?
Why or why not?
Political Action Committees (PACs): political groups whose purpose is to raise and spend money and influence elections. PACs can donate to candidate committees, party committees, or other PACs. Most have been created by corporations, labour unions, or trade associations. The really big ones are in industries like finance, real estate, healthcare, and energy
...and like this...
You may have also heard about super PACs: "Technically known as independent expenditure-only committees [and are
PACs, legally] super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to overtly advocate for or against political candidates. Unlike traditional PACs, super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates, and their spending must not be coordinated with that of the candidates they benefit." (opensecrets.org)