You knew it wouldn’t last long. Here we are, once again, being bombarded by all the news about possible presidential candidates. It seems you can’t open a newspaper, log onto a computer, turn on a TV or flip through a magazine without seeing these political hopefuls plastered all over the place. And it always seems to come down to who raised the most money for their campaign. The more money, the more exposure they can buy. The more money the more political favors might be owed. The whole process can seem a bit dishonest. That’s why there are laws governing campaign finance.
Campaign funding and regulations date way back to 1867, but it wasn’t until 1972 when an Act was passed that required political candidates to disclose where their funds had come from. The Federal Election Commission tried at that time to limited how much funds an individual could contribute, $1000, and how much corporations could contribute, $5000. In 2010, the United States Supreme Court ruled that these funds could not be limited as limiting them would be violating the donor’s freedom of speech.
Andrew Jackson was the first presidential candidate that used funding from others to publish his campaign agenda in newspapers. It was at this time corporations first attempted to receive favors from political donations. The idea of having campaign contributions to help elect politicians took off. You might not know this, but Abraham Lincoln went bankrupt trying to fund his senate run in 1858.
There were many attempts to overhaul the campaign finance system, but it took until 1974 for the next substantial change occurred. The Federal Election Campaign Act required broad disclosure of all campaign finance. Campaign Finance Law saw its next big adjustment in 2002 with the creation of BCRA. Limits were put on contributions, but not as severe as past attempts. This Act also limited pro-campaign ads from corporations and unions being aired from 30 prior to an election.
It is obvious that there are many adjustments that still need to happen to campaign finances before an acceptable system in put in place. Every year it becomes more and more expense to run for an office. When faced with an overwhelming amount of money to raise to be considered for any political post, it’s easy to see why accepting contributions can get a candidate in trouble. Having the checks on candidates that our campaign finance laws give us helps to curb most of the irregularities in campaign fund raising.