Campaigns/Elections

Data: Money Keeps Talking

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The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 was supposed to reduce the undemocratic, corrupting influence of money in politics, primarily by banning unlimited "soft money" contributions to political parties and regulating "electioneering communications," which used to be known colloquially as "political speech." So the elections of 2004 must have finally seen the moneychangers cast from the civic temple, right?

Not quite. Federal races last year saw an explosion in contributions to parties, to candidates, and to independent "527" groups that flooded the airwaves with ads more innovative and brazen than the relatively staid parties dared run.

Congress could, of course, admit that the law has failed and repeal the speech-squelching abomination. But since McConnell v. FEC made clear that the Supreme Court is more interested in applying First Amendment protections to Hustler than to political speech, it seems more likely that we'll see further efforts to, in the words of White House spokesman Scott McClellan, "shut down all of this activity by these shadowy groups."

Spending Type (in $ millions)
 20002004
Soft money$498NA
Individual contributions1,4602,500
PAC contributions288384
Candidate self-funding205144
Independent (interest groups/527) Public funds200386
Convention host committee238207
Other96139
Total57102
Source: Center for Responsive Politics$3.042$3,862

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