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USC / Political Science / POLI 360 / How much money can i donate to a presidential candidate?

How much money can i donate to a presidential candidate?

How much money can i donate to a presidential candidate?


School: University of South Carolina
Department: Political Science
Course: American Political Parties
Professor: David darmofal
Term: Winter 2016
Tags: political science and Government
Cost: 25
Name: POLI 360 - Week 11
Description: These notes cover what was discussed in class during the week of 3/28/16.
Uploaded: 03/30/2016
3 Pages 10 Views 5 Unlocks

POLI 360 – Lecture 16

How much money can i donate to a presidential candidate?

∙ Campaign Spending 

o Total spending has increased in presidential and congressional elections. o More money used to be spent on presidential nomination campaigns than in the 

general election because candidates can use public funding in the general election. This is no longer true because candidates can raise more money on their own than

they would receive from public funding.

o Parties fund national conventions.

o Types of Party Expenditures

1. Direct Expenditures: money given to candidates by parties.

2. Coordinated Expenditures: money given to candidates for polls, ads, etc. by the parties. These amounts of money are limited, but this type of 

expenditure does give parties more control over where the candidates 

How presidential campaigns are publicly funded?

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spend the parties’ funds.

3. Soft Money: money that can be spent on party­building activities.  Basically any money that is not spent on federal campaigns, including 

issue advocacy ads.

∙ Soft money was created indirectly when public funding was 

relegated to preferable sections of campaigning, such as ads and 

direct mail, leaving few funds for party building. The 1979 

Buckley v. Valeo decision exempted federal funds from being 

spent on party building activities.

o Democrats were more dependent on soft money than Republicans because 

Democrats had fewer individual donors.

o The BCRA banned most soft money.

o Political Action Committees (PACs): political groups that fundraise and spend 

What is soft money in political campaigns?

money to influence different elections.

o Types of PACs

 Sponsored PACs: set up by labor unions, trade associations, or 


 Nonconnected PACs: no sponsoring organizations; usually conservative 

or liberal.

 Leadership PACs: set up by incumbent congresspeople to distribute  funds to other candidates. These types of PACs create alliances, which are  If you want to learn more check out What was the outcome of citizens united v federal election commission 2010?

highly valued by congresspeople looking to move up in the leadership. o People can donate as much money as they like to PACs.

o Most PAC money goes to congressional campaigns.

o Other Sources of Fundraising

1. Super PACs: can give unlimited funds in support of candidates, but cannot

give funds directly to candidates.

2. Public funding (for presidential elections).

3. Individual contributors (were not very important in presidential elections  prior to 2008 because public funding was more profitable than seeking 

individual donations).

4. The candidates themselves can fund their campaigns. For example, Jon  Corzine, a New Jersey businessman, spent millions of his own money on 

his senatorial campaign.

∙ Campaign Finance Reforms 

o The two biggest reforms in recent years have been the Bipartisan Campaign  Finance Reform Act (BCRA) and the Citizens United v. FEC Supreme Court 


o BCRA aimed to reduce soft money campaign donations, whereas the Citizens  United decision promote soft money in campaigns because the Supreme Court 

defined money as a form of free speech.

 The Citizens United decision rationalized if candidates can contribute as  much of their own money as they want to their own campaigns, We also discuss several other topics like What is the impact of natural science?
If you want to learn more check out Which species in this ecosystem is the most crucial to the trophic order?

corporations and labor unions should be able to donate unlimited money to

political organizations (not including political parties).

o BCRA and the Citizens United decision both reduced parties’ roles in campaign 


o BCRA eliminated soft money used for campaign ads; instead, that money was 

sent to outside groups.

o Parties coordinate citizen preferences, but their reduced roles in fundraising give  them smaller voices, less governing responsibility, and less accountability for  campaign ads and Super PAC actions, especially when Super PACs do not 

disclose their donors.

o Essentially, BCRA was unsuccessful because soft money is still active in outside 

groups that are even less accountable than political parties.

o One substitute is to bring back soft money to political parties, which would give  We also discuss several other topics like What is the content of gideon versus wainwright?
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parties more control over campaign ads and messages.

o Another substitute is to allow unlimited donations to the candidates, as opposed to Super PACs with which the candidates cannot coordinate.

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