Logan EpsteinMr. Turner – Period 8January 12, 2018 2nd Quarter Project Money is power. There is no debating the fact that there is an influence of money on politics. How much influence the money plays on the policies and decisions elected officials make is what people question. Whether it is money spent on a party, an individual candidate, or to a group such as a PAC. Over the course of the past couple of centuries there has been an increase in the spending by individuals and groups to candidates. Every political campaign is run by money.
Financing is a vital step to become elected. It is crucial to garner the support of your home state, while securing both small and large donors. PACS and Super Pacs aid in raising the appropriate amount of money for an election.
The increased amount of money in recent campaigns has resulted in a negative effect on this country as it shifts the focus of the candidate from his own policies to policies influenced by his donators’ ideology. The Supreme Court has weighed in on laws concerning campaign donations and their limitations. They must keep the candidates from accepting too much money that would cause concern for corruption, but they also must allow the candidates to receive money from certain organizations or groups. The limits on how much a person can donate to a single campaign should always be limited.
If the limit is taken away, corruption will be extremely prevalent. The $2,700 limit right now is a good donation amount because it is not enough for a candidate to favor anyone or deliberately give special treatment from amount of donations. Although, the Supreme Court’s decisions in a number of cases have led to the decrease in limits on campaign donations. This means more money being spent on candidates. Over time, there have been numerous changes to how and how much a person or corporation can donate to different campaigns.
The most recent changes regarding donation limitations have been outlined by the Supreme Court cases: Buckley v Valeo, Citizens United v Federal Election Commision, and McCutcheon v Federal Election Commision. The Supreme Court has obviously shown their view, that limitations are necessary in some places while in others it is unnecessary or foolish. The main reason for limitations, corruption, is questioned in the Buckley v Valeo case.
In 1976, the case of Buckley v Valeo upheld federal limits on campaign retributions and struck down a portion of the FEC Act, thus limiting the amount of money individuals can contribute to their own campaign; ruled that spending money on one’s own campaign is a form of Constitutionally protected free speech. There is no reason for a person should be able to donate whatever they want because of the obvious reason of corruption. For the candidate it does not provoke corruption since they are just helping themselves not anyone else or with anyone else’s help. Donation limitations cannot be eliminated, instead they need to be kept intact so our system does not become corrupt and useless.
There is no other way for candidates to run an election without raising proper capital. As time has gone on, the amount of capital necessary to win an election has skyrocketed. John McCain stated, “I have personally experienced the pull from campaign staff alerting me to a call from a large donor. I do not believe that any of us privileged enough to serve in this body would ever automatically do the bidding of those who give.
I do not believe that contributions are corrupting in that manner. But I do believe they buy access. I do believe they distort the system. And I do believe, as I noted, that all of us, including myself, have been affected by this system.” (POWELL) The question many can not agree on is whether “buying access” is legal or not. In the cases against the FEC, free speech was a main factor in the decision made by the Supreme Court. In the case of Citizens United v FEC, the Supreme Court confirmed that the First Amendment prohibits the government from restricting political independent expenditures.
The government ever since 2010 is unable to keep corporations or unions from spending money to support or denounce individual candidates in elections. This case again reiterates the idea that the limitations on donations have fallen over the years. There are ways for for people and groups to get around the laws that are in place as well, by sending money through alternative means such as PACs and Super PACs. A Political Action Committee is an organization that pools campaign contributions from members and donates those funds to campaign for or against candidates. Many of these PACs are sponsored by either trade associations or union members.
PACs are open book when it comes to who donated. They have to disclose all information about how much each person or group donated. Not only do they have to do this, they have to list how the money was spent.
Businesses have agendas just like the political candidates do and if they see a candidate that they like or that directly benefits them why should they not be allowed to help that individual get elected. This is of course as long as the candidate does not favor them. For these businesses, they can donate their money to Super PACs without limitation; “A super PAC is a modern breed of political-action committee that’s allowed to raise and spend unlimited amounts of money from corporations, unions, individuals and associations to influence the outcome of state and federal elections.
” (ThoughtCo) With the money that they receive in donations, the Super PACs can spend the money on advertisements and anything to benefit the candidate without directly giving it to the candidate directly. Therefore there is virtually no limit on amount you can donate to aiding a candidate in being elected. While you can not directly donate to his or her campaign, you can donate to a Super PAC that uses your money, privately, to assist the candidate in being elected as it sees fit. The Supreme Court cases of recent times have shown that the limit on amount of money per candidate will always stay intact, but the number of candidates you can donate to will remain unlimited.
In McCutcheon v FEC, the government struck down the limits on how much individuals and corporations could give in total to federal candidates and party committees claiming free speech rights. It left in place the limitations per candidate. This is just common sense why should a person or a corporation be held to just a couple of candidates when they want to help a bunch or even all of them. This allows people to spread their money and support over a wide base.
In doing so, they are enabled to fund and support many candidates, usually within party lines, while not influencing the policies and ideas of the candidate. If there was no limit on how much a single person or group can give directly to the campaign it would cause corruption, with the candidate being swayed to help out the large donor rather than focusing on his or her constituents. Justice Kennedy stated, “If elected officials succumb to improper influences from independent expenditures; if they surrender their best judgment; and if they put expediency before principle, then surely there is cause for concern.
” (Gale: US History) The Supreme Court’s majority along with Kennedy view corruption as a legal concept, excluding influence, ingratiation, and improper influences. It was not necessary to exclude these conceptions of corruption to weaken and limit the laws that are justified by the Constitution. With all of these new policies and laws that people must follow when donating to a campaign, ways of avoiding the “rules” have arised.
Many argue that with limits on campaign donations people are against their rights. There are people that want to be able to spend how much they want on any given candidate. Fortunately, there are the limits on donating amounts to prevent people like this from donating millions and millions. This country needs to keep it so people can not heavily impact a political race.
Although money does run politics one person or group with a narrow and specific view on policies should not be able to have this much power of an individual candidate. Even if the there were people that just wanted to “help” out the candidates they want to see elected, there is always cause for the suspicion of unethical activity. A candidate should not rely on a few large donors for their campaign, rather they should be unaware of where the money is coming from. When the candidate knows that they have much of the money for his or her campaign coming from a person or group that feels a certain way on a specific policy they may be inclined to vote a certain way to keep the money flowing. Many large donors have turned to the Super PACs, as mentioned before. These large donors can donate however much they please to these organizations because of the way they go about using that money.
“Stratmann conducts such an analysis by examining two pieces of financial services legislation at different points in time. In 1991, the US House of Representatives took a vote on a bill to repeal the Glass-Steagall Act. The 1991 bill was defeated, and another vote on the same issue was taken in 1998.
The House passed the latter measure. Banking interests favored repeal, while the insurance and securities industries opposed it. Stratmann regresses the change in a representative’s vote from 1991 to 1998 on the changes in contributions from those three groups. He finds that these contribution changes have a statistically significant effect on a representative’s voting decision.
In particular, Stratmann finds that an extra $10,000 in banking contributions increases the likelihood of a House member voting in favor of repeal by approximately eight percentage points. Stratmann also finds that the influence of campaign contributions on voting decisions was larger for junior members of the House than for their more senior colleagues.” (Stratmann) I find it absolutely mind blowing that with just an increase of $10,000 it was found that a House member’s voting was swayed by eight percentage points. Without strict regulations, politicians can be subject to change throughout their lives being in office. When a politician becomes dependent on certain donors it can alter the politician’s thoughts and actions. The result of large amounts of money going to individual campaigns is that when the candidate is elected rather than going with what he or she truly believes in they have to think about pleasing the large donors.
Jedediah Purdy, Professor of Law at Duke University School of Law, writes in his article “That we are underlings: the real problems in disciplining political spending and the First Amendment”, “I do not think it will do to say that money is property, not speech. Regulating spending is not like saying that you can’t put a sign on your car. Money is the universal means. You cannot deny people the use of the means to a right, then claim to take the right seriously.
” (Gale: U.S. History) The government has not denied the people the right to spend their money on the campaign though.
People can still be involved using their money without giving it directly to the campaign. If a person believes they should be able to give however much money to support a certain candidate, they can go through alternative means of donating. When donating through a PAC there is also limited spending, but through a Super PAC a person can virtually donate what they please with it being in secret.
This is because the Super PAC is not technically connected to the campaign, while the PAC is. The PAC raises money from donors then turns and gives that donated money to the campaign. The Super PAC differs but not as much as people may think. The Super PAC is still heavily benefitting the candidate though.
Instead of giving the money to the campaign, it uses the money basically as the campaign would. After raising an unlimited sum of money from unions, corporations, individuals, and other groups they spend unlimited amounts of money to advocate for a certain candidate or against a candidate. There has been speculation on whether these Super PACs are good for politics or hurtful. Without question, they impact campaigns and influence the voter to vote for or against someone. The main regulation is that the leaders of the Super PAC can not be in contact with the campaign manager or anyone that is a part of the campaign for that matter. At the end of the day people can not be kept from spending their own money how they please. Every politician has been pulled or influenced by donors.
Whether they have been directly in contact with donors conversing on different policies or just simply knowing who donated and how they feel on certain topics. In the back of a politician’s head they have to be thinking of keeping their job and keeping money and support from large donors intact. The ideal donor just wants to back the candidate because they believe that they will be the best possible candidate for the job and they will carry on their ideas into policies.