The First Step Towards Lasting Campaign Finance Reform

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The First Step Towards Lasting Campaign Finance Reform

“You don 't put "vote Bartlet" in the ad, you can pay for it with unmarked bills from a bank heist if you want to.” - Bruno Gianelli (Fictional character, The West Wing, S03E06, “Gone Quiet”)1

Debates about the just and proper financing of campaigns for public office can be traced as far back as the Federalist Papers. On one side are those that believe any restriction in the frequency or amount of individual, corporate or union donations is an unconstitutional assault on the freedom of (political) expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. On the other side are those that worry about the fair stewardship of elections. Do those with the means to make more …show more content…

According to,

“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. Super PACs must, however, report their donors to the Federal Election Commission on a monthly or quarterly basis -- the Super PAC 's choice -- as a traditional PAC would. Unlike traditional PACs, Super PACs are prohibited from donating money directly to political candidates.”2

While Super PACs do need to make financial disclosures to the FEC on a monthly basis, their ability to take donations from corporations leaves them amble room to leave the names of their end donors undisclosed. Many Super PACs report donations as coming from one or multiple 501(c)(4) (politically active non-profit) organizations that do not have to disclose their donors. This is referred to as "the Russian nesting doll problem” among campaign finance reform advocates.
It is worth noting that the rise of Super PACs and other forms of unregulated campaign spending is of concern to politicians too. President Obama, as part of his 2010 State of the Union Address, said,

“With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that I believe will open the floodgates for special interests –- including foreign corporations –- to spend without limit in our elections. I don 't think American elections should be

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