Guide to Congress

9781604269536-bookcoverChapter 32: Campaign Financing

Campaign financing The principle “one citizen, one vote” is a core tenet of U.S. democracy, but political observers and activists continually debate how to ensure that wealth does not increase the political influence of some individuals or organizations far beyond the impact of the average person or give unfair advantage to certain candidates over others. Former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., wrote in his 2009 book Strengthening Congress that “politicians who want to be reelected today are desperate for money, because elections are extraordinarily expensive. On the other side lobbyists just as desperately want to influence legislation. And the tool they have at their disposal is the substance that politicians crave.” 1 While the dollar amounts raised and spent on recent campaigns are unprecedented, the issue of how campaigns are financed has been a source of controversy for more than a century. Congress passed the first significant campaign finance law in …

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Written by Christina L. Lyons, copyright 2015 CQ Press, an Imprint of SAGE Publications, Inc.