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The Making of the American Campaign Finance System
“A good overall evaluation on the history of money and politics in American elections.”—Choice
“A terrific book about the history of campaign finance reform and how notions of political corruption and democratic theory have evolved and shifted over the past 130 years.”—Adam Winkler, UCLA School of Law
"An eye-opening examination of the history, flaws, and bright points of America's modern political system."—The Midwest Book Review
In the wake of Watergate, Congress passed the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) in an effort to prevent the corruption of future elections. The U.S. Supreme Court, in Buckley v. Valeo (1976), defined corruption as quid pro quo—“get for giving”—meaning Congress could only regulate the kind of corruption that had occurred if a campaign contributor received political favors from the candidate. This definition has since shaped and limited efforts at campaign finance reform, often with ironic and unintended consequences. By shifting the focus to the source and amount of contributions, the justices in the Buckley decision ignored disparities in funding and the resulting ability of particular candidates to dominate communication channels.
(2007) 320 pp.
Kurt Hohenstein, who served as a Research Assistant on the National Commission on Election Reform, is Assistant Professor of History at Winona State University.
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