Essay Sample on Campaign Finance Reforms

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University of California, Santa Barbara
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Over the past several years, political campaigns in the United States have become highly costly and unmanageable. However, campaign finance is still a decisive issue. Campaign finance limits proponents have argued that campaigns are very corrupt due to wealthy who are holding too much swag in elections. There are those favoring less regulation who insists that campaign donations are a form of free speech. Campaign finance legislation dates back in 1867. Regulation of campaign fundraising became a major issue in the early 20th century during the presidential election of 1896. There was introduction of a new era of campaign advertising and looking for funds in businesses.

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In 1971, there was an establishment of the public campaign fund for eligible presidential candidates by the Revenue Act. This was where the tax payers could voluntarily contribute $1 to the fund. There was also an introduction of $50 deduction in tax for all filers for contribution to local, federal or state candidates. The Federal Election Campaign Act was passed to replace Federal Corrupt Practices Act. The law stipulated that there was to be a disclosure requirement for political parties, federal candidates and political parties committee of more than $100 donations. In 1974, a new low and strict campaign finance law embraced by the government. Congress passed several amendments, such as creating a bipartisan Federal Election Commission to oversee and enforce the law. There was also the setting of spending caps for candidates, where presidential candidates could spend up to $10,000,000 for primaries and $20,000,000 for general election. The senate could use up $100,000 or $.08 per qualified voter and $150,000for general elections.

In 1976, there was a case in the Supreme Court of Buckley v. Valeo where James Buckley and others challenged several of 1974 amendments of FECA, claiming the spending limit violated free speech rights. At the end of the case, the Supreme Court upheld the limits on contributions from disclosure rules, individuals and public financing of campaigns claiming they maintained integrity of elections and prevented corruption. Nevertheless, the court minimized the spending limits imposed on candidates and specific groups. To comply with the Supreme Court ruling in Buckley v. Valeo, the congress amended FECA. This amendment limited the amount an individual can donate to PACs to $5,000 and $20,000 to a national party committee.

In 2002, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act which was also known as the McCain- Feingold law banned soft money and any unlimited contributions to national party committees and parties. It also made clear political matters ads taken care of by corporations as electioneering communications and denied any broadcasts of similar ads within 60 days of general election. In 2003, in McConnell v. The federal Election Commission, the Supreme Court upheld major aspects of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act. It was voted that the ban of unlimited donations does not violate free speech. However, the court acknowledged that the ruling would not stop large flow of money in the campaigns.

In January 2008, Citizens United, a nonprofit corporation, aired a 90 minute documentary with the title Hillary: The Movie. The documentary expressed views about whether then Senator Hillary Clinton was fit to run for presidency. Citizens United planned to use its general treasury funds to assign the movie in auditoriums and on DVD. According to Bipartisan Reform Act of 2002, Federal law bans corporations and unions from spending their overall treasury funds on electioneering communications that promoter the election or defeat of the candidate. In Citizen United v. Federal Election Commission, on January 2010, the Supreme Court governed that corporations and cannot be constitutionally be banned from promoting the election of a candidate over another candidate. In regards to the ruling, Justice Kennedys majority opinion established that the BCRA 203 ban of all self-governing expenses by corporations and unions sullied the First Amendments protection of unrestricted speech. Judges decided arguments that unrestricted independent expenditures would promote corruption were void after the Citizen United decision.

Citizen United has effects on the citizens where it harms democracy and the people are fighting back. The Citizen United is harming democracy in that, lapsum money in politics permits rich exclusive few to suppress other voices to an unprecedented degree, in all ranks in the government. There was also an explosion on secret political spending immediately after Citizens United because the release necessities relied on by the Court did not exist. Similarly, big money in politics disrupts representation and responsiveness, curbing effective policy resolutions reinforced by majorities of Americans. Citizen United court ruling distorted the constitution by preventing common-sense rules to protect representative self- government.

Presidential candidates are wrestling with the political money issue which is a big issue in presidential race. Bernie Sanders opened the Democratic debate by stating that there is a campaign finance system which is corrupt and undermines American democracy, allowing Wall Street and billionaires to pour big money into the political process. Hillary Clinton then closed the debate by saying, we agree that weve gotta get unaccountable money out of politics. The politicians campaign finance agendas are similar and they call for more transparent big- donor groups and public financing to increase the effect of small benefactors. Hillary Clinton and Sanders aim Citizens United and say they would nominate Supreme Court Justices who can over turn the ruling. If given a chance other political parties would try and overturn the ruling. That is the only solution to the problem. Pushing for constitutional amendment and empowering the congress to limit political spending is the best solution.

In conclusion, according to some presidential candidates, Citizen United was one of the worst Supreme Court rulings in Americas history. There is a problem in the current system for funding elections and it only allows a few people and special interests to have more power than the majority Americans. There is improper influence of money in the government from both wealthy and corporate interest. The Supreme Court ruled that it had found no compelling government interest for banning corporations and unions from using their treasury funds.

Work Cited

Smith, Bradley (2001). Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform. Princeton University Press. HYPERLINK "" \o "International Standard Book Number" ISBN 0-691-11369-6.Kennedy, A. M. "Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission." (2010).

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