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Should Campaign Funding Be Limited? Essay

1540 words - 7 pages

The issue of campaign financing has been discussed for a long time. Running for office especially a higher office is not a cheap event. Candidates must spend much for hiring staff, renting office space, buying ads etc. Where does the money come from? It cannot officially come from corporations or national banks because that has been forbidden since 1907 by Congress. So if the candidate is not extremely rich himself the funding must come from donations from individuals, party committees, and PACs. PACs are political action committees, which raise funds from different sources and can be set up by corporations, labor unions or other organizations. In 1974, the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) requires full disclosure of any federal campaign contributions and expenditures and limits contributions to all federal candidates and political committees influencing federal elections. In 1976 the case Buckley v. Valeo upheld the contribution limits as a measure against bribery. But the Court did not rule against limits on independent expenditures, support which is not coordinated with the candidate. In the newest development, the McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission ruling from April 2014 the supreme court struck down the aggregate limits on the amount an individual may contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties and political action committees combined. Striking down the restrictions on campaign funding creates a shift in influence and power in politics and therefore endangers democracy. Unlimited campaign funding increases the influence of few rich people on election and politics. On the other side it diminishes the influence of the majority, ordinary (poor) people, the people.
How do the opponents of campaign funding limits argue? According to Jeffrey Toobin in his article “The John Roberts Project”, Chief Justice John Roberts, argues that “Congress may target only a specific type of corruption – 'quid pro quo' corruption. Quid-pro-quo involves direct exchange of an official act for money and can be seen as bribery. Roberts adds that if it is not quid-pro-quo corruption it falls under the freedom of speech and is protected by the First Amendment. In Amy Howe's article “Divided Court strikes down campaign contribution caps” she quotes Roberts: “there is no right more basic in our democracy than the right to participate in electing our political leaders” Roberts refers here to the Constitution. Roberts also thinks that spending large amounts of money does not give rise to corruption. Roberts also insists that the McCutcheon case only removes the aggregate limits and does not challenge base limits (individual limits). That is debatable because according to Howe, his colleague Justice Clarence Thomas were ready to take an extra step treating campaign contributions just like campaign spending. That could finish the base limits off. Who is McCutcheon and what did he want? Amy Howe also states that Shaun McCutcheon wanted...

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