Tag Archives: independent expenditures

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

Citizens United Ruling Part 3

by Barb and Kellye

This is the third in a series of four posts outlining the 7 major questions considered by the Supreme Court in making its Citizens United decision ( Part 1,  Part 2). This post deals with two more of those major questions. One of these questions involves what corruption test should be used to determine whether campaign finance laws are needed to restrict political spending. The other question asks whether the “appearance of political corruption” erodes the public’s confidence in the democratic process. As stated at the beginning of the series, Justice Kennedy wrote the majority opinion and Justice Stevens the minority opinion.

Be sure to read to the end of this post to find out what the Supreme Court decided to do today. Continue reading

PACs, Super PACs, and 501(c)4s

A group of people, such as a business, labor union, or ideological group, may create a PAC to raise and disburse voluntary donations directly to a political party or a political candidate’ s campaign. For example, PACs have been created by many corporations, unions, and special interest groups, such as the National Association of Realtors, AT&T, ExxonMobil, Sierra Club, Transport Workers Union, National Rifle Association, and Washington Women for Choice.

In 1944, the Congress of Industrial Organizations established the first PAC in response to the Smith-Connally Act of 1943 which disallowed contributions to federal political campaigns from union treasuries. The Federal Election Campaign Act Amendments (1974) set limits on donations to federal PACs, as well as spending limits which were later repealed (Buckley v. Valeo, 1976). Since the 1970s, campaign finance law has continued to evolve.

PACs are one of four sources of funds for candidates seeking federal office (the other three sources are individual donors,  political parties, and the candidate’s own money).   Continue reading