Campaign Finance Reform: Introduction

What is Campaign Finance?

Campaign finance refers to fundraising and spending involved in candidates’ run for office. These campaigns cost a great deal of money; from travel expenses to advertisements and compensation of staff, enormous financial burdens come with running for office.

The passage of Federal Election Campaign Act in 1971 marked a major victory for campaign finance reform: all candidates must tell the public where money they recieve originated. Except in the case of independently wealthy candidates, most political candidates get funding from their parties, as well as supporters. These supporters include wealthy individuals and major corporations. Concerns arise about the ability of these donors to influence public policy.

Supporters of campaign finance reform argue there is room for adjustment, and that big donations tilt the power scale toward donors and away from “average” voters who cannot afford the influence that comes with big money. On the other hand, opponents argue that money is a form of expression that is protected by the Constitution. American politicians struggle to strike a balance between the two sides, with the ultimate goal of protecting the integrity of American democracy.