1971 Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA)


Bell ringer

Write 2 newspaper headlines for the following events – you must use the vocab words!

1. John McCain won the Republican nomination in 2008.

(primary election, party base)

2. Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008.

(general election, winner-take-all)

Campaign Finance

Elections & Campaigns

Today we will …


Identify ways candidates can finance their campaigns, using hard money & soft money.

Explain when reforms occurred over time and their effects.


Campaign finance reform slides/notes/vocab

10.5 – Reading Questions


HW: Read 10.4

Campaigning & write a candidate’s email/letter home

Homework – 10.4

Read 10.4 Campaigning

Write a email/letter home as if you are a presidential candidate

Use the vocab words listed for 10.4:

Presidential election

Term limits

Stump speech

Polling place

Battleground states

Electoral vote

The Real Cost of a Presidential Campaign: Presidential

Prices - Bloomberg

Tug of War special interests vs. reform

The First Amendment -1790

Number of voters expanded

1870 15 th


1913 17th Amendment

1920 19th Amendment

1971 26th Amendment

1993 Motor Voter Act

African-Americans get the vote

Popular election of Senators.

Women get the vote

18 and older get the vote

Makes registering to vote easier

“Hard Money”

Political contributions ($) that are regulated by law – specifically contributions that fall within the contribution limits and source requirements.

Given directly to a candidate.

Its name is ironic to some because of how “hard” it is to raise these funds.

The Early Years

1939 Hatch Act

Congress prohibited contributions to federal candidates from federal workers and contractors & limited individual contributions to $5,000 per year.

1947 Taft-Hartley Act

Permanent ban on contributions to federal candidates from unions, corporations, and interstate banks.

Who is winning the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

Leading to Watergate


Revenue Act

Established the public financing system for qualifying presidential candidates.

Paid for by the voluntary $1.00 check off on income tax forms.


Federal Elections Campaign Act (FECA)

Required full and timely disclosures, limited some contributions, capped spending, and permitted unions and corporations to form PACs.



Most PAC’s are politically active groups run by corporations, labor unions, membership organizations or trade associations.

Political contributions made to these PACs must be from their members.

May be used to pay for candidate ads (“independent ads”)

Who is winning the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

Fred Wertheimer in NYTimes Video: The Cost of

Campaigns | Democracy21Democracy21

After Watergate


Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA)

After the Nixon Watergate scandal Congress created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to enforce the

Federal Election Campaign Act provisions.

$1,000 individual contribution limit

$5,000 PAC contribution limit

Who is winning the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

Challenges to FECA

1979 FECA Amendments- Package of amendments to the election campaign act allows the use of donations to political parties rather than candidates


“Soft Money”

Any political contribution that is not regulated by law.

These funds are supposed to be limited to party building activities & “get out the vote” drives, but some of this money still finds its way into areas where contributions should be regulated (ex: Ads for the election or defeat of a candidate).

Who is winning the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

McCain-Feingold Law (BCRA)

2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act

Sponsored by Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) &

John McCain (R-AZ).

No more unregulated contributions (soft money) to national political parties.

Defined political ads as "electioneering communications" & said these ads could NOT be paid for by a corporation or unincorporated entity (aka

PAC) using any corporate or union funds.

BCRA is upheld.


Supreme Court Upholds BCRA

McConnell v FEC

The decision preserved the soft money ban and restrictions on political ads, which were the most significant parts of BCRA.

Who is winning the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

BCRA is dismantled.


Citizens United v. FEC

The ruling allowed corporations and unions to advocate for or against candidates at any time.

The 5-to-4 decision said of the First Amendment’s most basic free speech principle — that the government has no business regulating political speech.

Corporations & unions have 1 st like people do.

Amendment right to free speech, just

American Crossroads - American Crossroads

Restore Our Future

The Super PAC is born.

No limits on spending!

Super PACs may raise unlimited sums of money from corporations, unions, associations and individuals, then spend unlimited sums to advocate for or against political candidates.

Super PACs must report their donors to the FEC on a monthly or quarterly basis.

Super PACs cannot donate money directly to political candidates.

 http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/epwg6t/stephe n-files-super-pac-request

Issue Ads free of most regulation

Who won the tug of war?

Special Interests or Reformers?

10.5 - Reading Groups

Read 10.5 together and discuss/answer the questions about financing election campaigns.


Do you think that limiting campaign contributions from companies, industries, and labor unions infringes upon 1 st

Amendment freedom of speech?