Why has Campaign Finance Reform in the USA proved Difficult? There have been many attempts to reform the campaign finance since the 19th Century and before the reform was introduced, there were concerns over the amount of money being spent by individual candidates in the run up to an election and the actual presidential elections. In 1974, under President Ford, the Congress passed significant amendments to the Federal Election Campaign Act creating a way to regulate campaign contributions and spending.
A way that the campaign finance reform proved difficult was that there were many loopholes to try and get under the law; the Supreme Court strengthened this in 1976, in the Buckley and Valeo Case, the Supreme Court ruled that limitations on what individuals could spend either supporting or opposing a candidate infringed the 1st Amendment rights of freedom of religion, speech, press and assembly and were therefore unconstitutional.
In addition, in 1979, Congress further weakened the law by allowing parties to use ‘soft money’ which is the ‘one time’ funding from governments and organisations for a project or special purpose such as voter registration, or party building activities. Later, this money was used for candidate related issue ads which led to the increase in soft money and expenditures in elections. This led to the creation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act which banned soft money expenses by parties.
Finally, the 527s were a type of tax-exempt organisations to attempt to get under the law in order to influence the selection, nomination and election of candidates running for election. In 2004, John Kerry was running for Presidency, he was known to be a war hero during his time in the Vietnam War, his election was threatened by the 527 who smeared on Kerry’s campaign and made his war stories seem false. The money that they made was mostly contributed by Peter Lewis who donated more than $20 million each to the 527s in order to help them attack the Democratic presidential candidate.
In summary, Campaign Finance Reform has proved difficult because of the powers of the Supreme Court, Congress and the 527 groups with the way that they find loopholes in order to raise money. I think that it has also proved difficult because there are too many ways for people to get around the law and go against everything that the Reform Act wants. Also, the candidates do indeed need the money in order to have a successful campaign, so if this is restricted, then the candidates are not doing as much as they can to gain votes and therefore win the election.
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