Money in Politics: the LWV Updates Its Stance

Member discussion and reaching agreement on the role of money in campaigns and elections is perhaps the policy issue most critical to the League’s mission.

Leading up to member discussions on January 11 and 25 on Money in Politics, participants should take some time to read the fascinating articles described below. 

For voters distrustful of and dissatisfied with current campaign procedures, Options for Reform below is the most useful essay to read.

History of the 1st Amendment— Shifts in Supreme Court Opinions about Money in Politics Before 1970, campaign finance regulation was weak and ineffective, and the Supreme Court infrequently heard cases on it. The Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925 was the campaign finance reform act in effect when Congress enacted the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (FECA), but it was easily evaded and rarely enforced. It prohibited campaign contributions by corporations, and it required quarterly disclosure of contributions in excess of $100 to multi-state candidate committees.( http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/money-politics-first-amendment )  ALSO (http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/money-politics-shifts-supreme-court-opinion-about-money-politics)

Corruption and Rationales for Regulating Campaign Finance Laws dating from 1907 and through the 1990s attest to the significant concerns of voters and legislators about the power of money to influence elections and subsequent government policies and activities. Also, The nature of what constitutes corruption has been addressed in a number of Supreme Court decisions since Buckley v. Valeo (1976). http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/money-politics-corruption-and-rationales-regulating-campaign-finance)

Hard, Soft, and Dark Money Early political scandals involved money used directly for bribery or buying votes. Modern day scandals involve the appearances of corruption depending where gifts and campaign money came from. The U.S. Supreme Court has made a number of controversial decisions expanding the amounts of money in politics by characterizing political donations and expenditures to be exercises of freedom of speech. Among other results, those decisions have created a large and growing category of election related donations and contributions called “dark money.” (http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/hard-soft-and-dark-money )

Independent Expenditures In theory, independent expenditures are not contributions to a candidate and, therefore, cannot constitute a quid pro quo exchange, the only form of corruption that the U. S. Supreme Court recognizes in the political sphere

Evidence of Spending Impacts on Legislative Outcomes What reforms in current campaign spending are justified? This brief review focuses on 3 types of evidence about whether campaign contributions have negative effects on politics: 1) public opinion surveys, 2) recent experience of participants in the political process, and 3) scholarly research in the political science literature. The emphasis is on research available since the year 2000. (http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/evidence-spendings-impacts-electoral-and-legislative-outcomes)

Options for Reform For voters distrustful of and dissatisfied with the current campaign procedures, this is the most useful essay to read. It covers legislative approaches, regulatory methods, and other steps, including amending the US Constitution. ( http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/options-reforming-money-politics ) 

Enforcement of Federal Campaign Finance Law​​(http://forum.lwv.org/member-resources/article/mip-enforcement-federal-campaign-finance-law)​

The purpose of this restudy of this topic is to address the possible lack of member understanding and agreement as to whether financing a political campaign is protected speech under the First Amendment. Results may update the League’s position on campaign finance .

Through this current study and consensus process, the League's position on Campaign Finance position may be updated  to consider:

(1) the rights of individuals and organizations, under the First Amendment, to express their political views through independent expenditures and the finance of election campaign activities; and

(2) how those rights, if any, should be protected and reconciled with the interests set out in the current position.


 

Learn More Facts About Money in Politics

Money in Politics Discussion

Monday, January  11-11:30am

Rick's on the Square


Money in Politics Member Consensus

Monday, January  25-7 pm

Genecov Room in the Tyler Area Chamber of Commerce 315 North Broadway