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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Political Money I






Aerospace Industries Asssocation (and its PAC)

Excerpts from Ballotpedia Timeline

  • 1883: The Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act forbids government officials to solicit contributions from any civil service workers, or award these positions on anything but merit. 
  • 1907: The Tillman Act was passed, making contributions to federal candidates by corporations and national banks illegal. 
  • 1910: The Federal Corrupt Practices Act requires House candidates to disclose their finances. One year later, Senate and primary candidates also were required to disclose their finances, and expenditure limits were set for all congressional candidates.
  • 1921: In Newberry v. United States, the Supreme Court rules that the Federal Corrupt Practices Act is unconstitutional because the Constitution does not grant Congress the authority to regulate political parties or federal primary elections. As a result, spending limits were not longer required in Congressional elections.
  • 1925: Congress amends the Federal Corrupt Practices Act to include a ban on any corporation contribution to a federal campaign, candidates must disclose the source of contribution greater than $50, patronage is prohibited, and Senate candidates can spend $0.03 for each voter based on the previous election up to $25,000. House candidates are limited to $5,000.
  • 1939: The Hatch Act bans most federal employees from contributing to candidates in national elections and from participating in political activities or campaigns.
  • 1943: The Smith-Connally Act is passed, which prohibited unions from contributing to federal candidates. Prior to this law, unions had been using dues as political donations. The first political action committee (PAC) is established by the Congress of Industrial Organization, and union members voluntarily contribute to the PAC independent of the union.
  • 1947: The Taft-Hartley Act is passed, which banned corporations and unions from even making independent expenditures in federal political campaigns. As long as candidates promised not to use their primary money during the general election campaign or collect private donations, they could campaign with publicly funded dollars.
  • 1967: Congress officially begins to collect campaign finance reports, despite it being law for nearly 50 years.
  • 1971 Election laws: The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 and the 1971 Revenue Act were passed, initiating fundamental changes in campaign finance laws. FECA required full reporting of campaign contributions and expenditures and also limited spending on media advertisements. In addition, FECA provided the legislative framework for PACs established by unions and corporations, which allowed unions and corporations to use treasury funds to establish, operate and solicit voluntary contributions for federal PACs.
  • The Revenue Act allowed citizens to check a box on their tax forms authorizing the federal government to use one of their tax dollars to finance Presidential campaigns in the general election. From the time this was first implemented in 1973, enough money had been collected to fund the 1976 election.
  • 1974 Amendments: Following the documentation of campaign abuses in the 1972 elections, the Federal Election Commission (FEC) was established and given jurisdiction in civil enforcement, authority to write regulations and responsibility for monitoring compliance with FECA. The President, Speaker of the House and President pro tempore of the Senate were each allowed to appoint two voting members of the commission, and the Secretary of the Senate and Clerk of the House were designated as nonvoting Commissioners.
  • The 1974 amendments also provided for partial Federal funding, in the form of matching funds, for Presidential primary candidates. Public funding was also extended to political parties to finance their Presidential nominating conventions. Congress also enacted strict limits on both contributions and expenditures for all federal candidates and political committees involved in federal elections.
  • Buckley v. Valeo: Portions of the 1974 amendments were challenged as unconstitutional, and a lawsuit was filed by Senator James L. Buckley against the Secretary of the Senate, Francis R. Valeo. The Court upheld contribution limits, but overturned expenditure limits, saying that limiting expenditures would limit the quantity of campaign speech, which in turn violated First Amendment rights. In addition, provisions of the law regarding public funding, disclosure and record keeping were upheld. The Court also found that the method of appointing members to the FEC violated the principle of separation of powers.  ALSO NOTE THE "MAGIC WORDS" FOOTNOTE
  • 1976 Amendments: In response to the Court's ruling, Congress repealed expenditure limits and revised the method of appointing Commissioners. Beginning in 1976, the President appointed six Commissioners, to be confirmed by the Senate. These amendments also included provisions to limit the scope of PAC fundraising by corporations and labor organizations by specifying who could be solicited for contributions, and how those solicitations could be conducted. In addition, a single contribution limit was adopted for all PACs established by the same union or corporation.
  • 1979 Amendments: Following the 1976 and 1978 elections, Congress further amended the law to include provisions to simplify reporting requirements, encourage party activity at state and local levels and increased public funding grants for Presidential nominating conventions.
  • 2002: The McCain-Feingold Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) was passed, which sought to limit the use of "soft money." Soft money is money raised by national parties and political action committees for "get out the vote" campaign efforts and other organization-building activities. This money wasn't regulated by the federal government, and parties were raising unlimited funds for these activities but using them for purposes aside from voter registration. Notably, 501(c) and 527 organizations were exempted from the soft money ban, though they were banned from running ads prior to primaries and elections, and from providing direct advocacy for a candidate.
  • 2003: The BCRA was sent to the Supreme Court via suits filed by Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell (R), the California Democratic Party and National Rifle Association, under the complaint that the law was too broad and limited their First Amendment rights. The Court upheld the law in McConnell v. The Federal Election Commission.
  • 2007: The Supreme Court reversed their on issue ads in McConnell v. Federal Election Commission in Federal Election Commission v. Wisconsin Right to Life, Inc, saying that limits on electioneering spending by nonprofits were unconstitutional.
  • 2008: Senator Barack Obama became the first presidential candidate from a major party not to take public financing for the general election, citing a broken system for his actions.
  • 2010: In Citizens United v. FEC, the Supreme Court held that independent expenditures by corporations and labor unions were protected by the First Amendment, which struck down BCRA provisions that banned these types of expenditures. A few months later, the decision from Citizens United was applied to Speechnow.org v. FEC in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals. Judges decided arguments that unlimited independent expenditures would lead to corruption were invalid after the Citizens United decision.
  • 2012: For the first time, both presidential candidates decline public financing. Also, the Supreme Court decided that Citizens United applied to Montana's 1912 legislation banning direct corporate political spending in American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock.
  • 2014: The recent Supreme Court decision in McCutcheon v. FEC ruled that aggregate contribution limits infringed on First Amendment rights. This decision removes a cap on the amount of money any single donor, including PACs, can give to candidates or party committees. Previously, the limit had been a total of $48,600 every two years for all federal candidates and an aggregate of $74,600 to political parties and committees. There is no limit to the number of PACs that can exist, so donors could theoretically increase their contributions to certain candidates considerably if they had enough PACs supporting them. The base limits for campaign contributions of $2,600 for individual candidates and $5,000 for PACs remain in effect.
Hard money contribution limitsPACs and SSFs
The Cost of Winning a Seat
Campaign Funding Sources

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