To what extent are the laws restricting campaign finance affective? (30 marks)

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  • regulation of campaign finance
    • lack of regulation of TV ads
      • FECA 1971 set caps on TV ads to 10 cents per voter in the previous election
      • Buckely v. Valeo 1976 - campaign finance laws can only restrict speech that 'expressly advocated' for/against a candidate
      • bi-partisan campaign reform act 2002 banned unions & corporations funding 'electioneering communications'
        • 527s increased as a result
          • can accept unlimited sums as long as they disclose donors
      • Citizens United v. FEC 2010 ruled in favour of campaign financing - 1st A
        • Super PACs increased
          • can accept unlimited amounts of money to independently help candidates
      • 1,310 Super PACs raised over $828m 2012
      • electorate unfairly influenced by wealthy groups through TV ads
      • prevents electoral being properly educated on issues
      • elections decided on image rather than issues
    • no limits on spending by candidates on their own campaigns
      • FECA 1971 imposed limits up to $50,000 for president & VP. $35,000 for senate. $25,000 for reps.
      • Buckley v. Valeo 1976 unconstitutional to limit personal spending - 1st A
      • easier for wealthier candidates to win
      • view of the wealthy better represented
      • promotes elitism
    • decline in public financing of campaigns
      • Revenue Act 1971 - candidates receive $20m public funds if they raise no private funds
      • FECA 1971 - expanded public funding to include matching funds up to $10m limit
      • however, decline in public financing
        • Obama 2008 refused public funding & raised $745m. Romeny raised $84.1m
        • 2012 & 2016 both candidates rested public funding
      • less diversity of candidates
      • may put off candidates from different backgrounds
      • give voters less choice & increase apathy
    • restrictions on individuals, corporations, banks, unions, parties & PACs
      • McCutcheon v. FEC 2014 - left intact the $2,600 limit to single candidate by single donor
      • prevents elitism & promotes pluralist democracy
      • help reduce growing importance of money in elections
      • can get around regs. by forming Super PACs, 527s, 501(c)s (classes as social welfare groups)
    • ban on soft money
      • FECA 1979 allowed individuals, corporations & parties to give unlimited donations to candidates as soft money
      • bi-partisan campaign reform act 2002 banned soft money from being raised by national party committees
        • McConnell v. FEC 2003 ban on soft money didn't violate free speech
      • helps reduce loopholes in finance regs.
      • create more public confidence in finance regs.
      • reduces apathy
      • all other organisations can donate unlimited amounts of soft money


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