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The Voter’s Speakeasy featuring unbiased reporting and insight into life at Vote Smart from our staff, interns, and volunteers.

Campaign Finance: Free Speech, or Another Platform for Corruption?

2016 August 31

Each year, as billions of dollars are funneled into American elections, more and more questions continue to rise regarding not only the legality of these financial contributions, but also the true intentions behind them.

Currently, anyone from individual citizens to enormous Political Action Committees (PAC’s) can contribute money to a campaign. Though somewhat indirectly, corporations are currently able to support various candidates through these means as well.

This aspect of campaign finance in particular has caused a great deal of controversy in the political arena. There are, however, strong arguments made on both sides of the financial battlefield.

Some claim that the ability to make campaign contributions is a right as well as an expression of free speech, while others argue that this practice only leads to unfair elections, ultimately resulting in the wrong candidates finding their way into positions of power.

Aside from the question of who is right and who is wrong, it is apparent that the bipartisan issue of campaign finance has made enormous waves in the American political climate.

In 2004, though running unopposed, George W. Bush set a new fund-raising record and raised the bar on election finance by acquiring over $200 million in the Republican Presidential Primary. Though that number sounds impressive, Barack Obama later trumped that number in 2008 by raising over $600 million.

With this mind boggling number as the new standard, big money soon trickled down from the Presidential elections to the smaller campaigns. According to MapLight, in 2012 the average amount of money raised ...

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