Public Funding Option How Does Public Funding for Campaigns Work? • To qualify candidates must agree to limit campaign spending to a specified amount • FEC certifies the amount of public funds to which the candidate or convention committee is entitled • U.S. Treasury makes payments from Presidential Election Campaign Fund. • fund consists of dollars voluntarily checked off by taxpayers on their federal income tax returns • checkoff neither increases the amount of taxes owed nor decreases any refund due for the tax year in which the checkoff is made As a result, candidates are increasingly NOT taking public funds…they can raise more on their own! (specifically presidential candidates)
Political Parties vs. Interest Groups James Madison did not distinguish between interest groups and political parties when he referred to both as “factions,” but today they differ in significant ways. Interest Groups 1. Interest groups may support certain candidates for office, but they do not nominate their own candidates. 2. Interest groups often take a narrow focus on a specific issue, such as gun control, abortion, or the environment. 3. Interest groups compete for influence over elected officials so that they decide public policy issues in the interest group’s favor. Political Parties 1. Political parties nominate candidates to run for elective office. 2. Political parties focus on a broad range of issues to appeal to a wide range of the electorate. 3. Political parties compete for control of the legislative branch by trying to win the majority of the seats in Congress.
Interest Groups Lobbyist Lawmaker Interest groups hire lobbyists to persuade lawmakers to support the group’s goals and ideas. People join or create special interest groups to encourage laws that suit them. Special interest groups range in size from one to millions. They represent businesses, faiths, regions, or ideologies. Lobbyists develop contacts to ensure they can reach key lawmakers. They persuade lawmakers to adopt the interest group’s views, provide the information on the effects of specific legislation and may help write bills. They sponsor opinion polls to demonstrate support for an issue. They also help lawmakers raise campaign funds. Lobbyists alert interest groups to proposed legislation that affects them and reports lawmaker’s positions on key bills. Interest groups alert the news media to issues and provide information in an attempt to influence public opinion. Lobbyists persuade political parties to add interest group’s issues to the party platform and arrange for soft money contributions to be made to the party. Parties give extra campaign support to candidates in crucial races. Interest groups advise members on the policies and voting records of politicians so they can vote for the lawmakers that support their views. From Viewpoint to Policy
A few well-known interest groups… MADD Mothers Against Drunk Driving NOW National Organization for Women AARP American Association of Retired People NAACP National Association for the Advancement of Colored People NRA National Rifle Association NEA National Education Association ABA American Bar Association AMA American Medical Association NARAL National Abortion Rights Action League NRLC National Right to Life Campaign NORML National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws League of Women Voters * US Chamber of Commerce Sierra Club * World Wildlife Federation * Human Rights Campaign ZPG * PETA * Christian Coalition * Common Cause * AFL-CIO
Party Building Activities? Political parties are allowed to spend as much money as they want as long as the money goes to “party-building” activities, such as voter registration drives, issues ads--that is, ads that support party positions on issues. This spending of soft money, unlike hard money (regulated) spent promoting specific candidates,is largely unregulated. Soft money is often viewed as a king-sized loophole in campaign finance law. It is mainly comprised of “gifts” to political parties from corporations, labor unions, and wealthy individuals. Six-figure donations are not uncommon! Soft money is increasingly used to pay for media advertising…and it is used to get around legal limits on campaign contributions.
Major Campaign Finance Rules General Regulations The Federal Election Commission (FEC) polices campaigns and has the power to investigate and prosecute violators. All contributions over $100 must be disclosed, giving the name, address, and occupation of the contributors. No cash contributions may exceed $100, and no foreign contributions may be accepted. Contribution Limits To a candidate or candidate committee To a national To any other Total per per primary or party committee political committee calendar general election per year per year year Individuals $1,000 $20,000 $5,000 $25,000 PACs $5,000 $15,000 $5,000 No limit
Campaign Spending… • How much is too much? • What are the pros and cons to unlimited contributions? • Do you feel the ‘loop holes’ should be fixed?
2012 Campaign Financing • Funding Chart • Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission • 2010 • 5-4 Supreme Court vote • Decision: outside spending by corporations in election campaigns is a constitutional right • Majority- "political speech does not lose First Amendment protection simply because its source is a corporation." • Dissenting- "substantial body of evidence" that outside spending by corporations "can be corrupting in much the same way as direct contributions."
Campaign Finance • General Election Funds • Candidates are eligible for public funding of all • campaign costs associated with the general election • if they agree to: • limit spending to the amount received by the federal • government. • not receive private contributions if accepting public funding • (1996 = $61.8 million).
Campaign Finance • Third Party Candidates • Candidates are eligible for matching public funds… • if in the last election, the candidate received 5% • or more of the popular vote. • if no candidate ran in the last election, the candidate • may receive public funding after the election is over • if he/she receives 5% or more of the popular vote. • the amount received is based on the proportion of the popular • vote he/she receives.
Campaign Finance • Primary Matching Funds • Government matches all contributions $250 or less if • candidate meets the following criteria: • show broad-based support by receiving at least • $5,000 in contributions of $250 or less in 20+ states • candidate must agree to national limit on campaign • spending for all primary elections (1996 = $31 million) • candidate must agree to spending limits for each state • candidate cannot spend more than $50,000 of own funds
Soft Money Contributions to… Republicans Democrats 1992 $49.8 million $36.3 million 1996 $138.2 million $123.9 million
Who are the big soft money donors? To DemocratsTo Republicans Seagram & SonsPhilip Morris $1.71 million $2.538 million Comm. Workers of America RJR Nabisco $1.13 million $1.189 Million Walt Disney Co. Union Pacific Corp. $997,000 $707,393 Revlon Seagram & Sons $673,000 $685,145 MCI Worldcom Bell Atlantic $650,203 $649,854
History of Campaign Finance • As you watch, chart the changes that have occurred in laws pertaining to campaign finance