Monthly Archives: September 2013

Highlights of Campaign Finance History – Part 3

by Kellye

Before the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) was passed in 2002, both political parties were diverting unlimited “soft money” donations into federal elections. This was in violation of the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) which stipulated that “soft money” be used for “party-building” activities and not on federal elections. Furthermore, FECA placed limits on the amount of money that could be given to political parties for use in federal elections. Since there were no limits on “soft money” donations from any source, this not only allowed individuals and any entity to circumvent the limits on political contributions but, in particular, allowed corporations and unions to circumvent the law and use their treasuries to fund federal elections. BCRA put an end to the abuse of “soft money” by political parties.

After BCRA was enacted, it didn’t take long before someone thought of a way to get around that law. Continue reading

Highlights of Campaign Finance History – Part 2

by Kellye

After the Supreme Court overturned several of the major campaign finance reforms that had been put into place by the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) and its amendments (see Part 1), another attempt was made to reform campaign finance in 2002.  This time Senator John McCain and Senator Russ Feingold worked together to amend FECA once again with the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA), also known as McCain-Feingold. The two main issues that were addressed were the contributions of soft money to political parties and the proliferation of political ads that were disguised as issue advocacy ads. Continue reading

Highlights of Campaign Finance History – Part 1

by Kellye

Before the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) was passed in 1971, there were few laws to govern campaign finance at the federal level. The Tillman Act (1907) banned corporations from making political contributions to candidates in federal races. The Taft-Hartley Act (1947) barred unions from doing the same. Taft-Hartley also was the first law that prohibited both corporations and unions from making “independent expenditures” in support of or in opposition to candidates in federal elections. As will be shown in this post (Part 1) and the next (Part 2), whenever Congress would pass laws to reform campaign finance, the Supreme Court would strike down significant parts of each one of them. Continue reading