Brennan Center for Justice. November 10, 2014.

The Brennan Center examined outside expenditures reported to the FEC through Election Day in the most competitive U.S. Senate contests. “Outside spending” refers to election-focused expenditures by anyone other than the candidates. These competitive races have attracted the greatest amount of outside spending. The analysis below details not only the record amounts of outside spending in 2014, but also the dominance of “dark money groups,” which are outside groups that don’t reveal all the sources of their funds. [Note: contains copyrighted material]. [PDF format, 4 pages]

Election Spending 2014: 9 Toss-Up Senate Races

On October 24, 2014, in Politics, by editor2

Brennan Center for Justice. October 21, 2014

Using newly released FEC data, Election Spending 2014: 9 Toss-Up Senate Races examines outside spending in 2014’s nine most competitive U.S. Senate races, the outcomes of which will likely determine which party controls the Senate for the next two years. The report found record highs in total outside spending, “dark money” spending by groups that conceal the identity of their donors, and spending by single-candidate groups. In fact, it is likely that eight of these nine races will match or exceed the previous record high for spending in a Senate race, while less than half the expenditures so far have come from the candidates themselves. In other words, outside money made possible by weak regulation and Supreme Court rulings like Citizens United is giving wealthy spenders more power than ever to buy influence over elections. [Note: copyrighted material] [PDF format, 33 pages]

Brookings Institution. October 22, 2014.

When Thomas Jefferson wrote, “Whenever the people are well-informed, they can be trusted with their own government…whenever things get so far wrong as to attract their notice, they may be relied on to set them to rights,” he certainly could not have conceived of secret money’s impact on elections and policy-making. But every year that goes by with Congress failing to address secret campaign spending challenges the founding father’s time-tested wisdom. [Note: contains copyrighted material] [HTML format]

Congressional Research Service. January 8, 2014.

There is a consensus that the presidential public financing program is antiquated and offers insufficient benefits to attract the most competitive candidates. No major candidate accepted public funds in 2012. In 2008, then-candidate Barack Obama became the first person, since the public financing program’s inception, elected President without accepting any public funds. For some, these developments signal an urgent need to save the public campaign financing program that has existed since the 1970s; for others, they suggest that the program is unnecessary. [PDF format, 7 pages]

Congressional Research Service. September 20, 2013.

Minor and major changes have occurred in campaign finance policy since 2002, when Congress substantially amended campaign finance law via the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA). The Supreme Court’s 2010 ruling in Citizens United v. FEC  and a related lower-court decision, v. FEC, arguably represent the most fundamental changes to campaign finance law in decades. Citizens United  lifted a previous ban on corporate (and union) independent expenditures advocating election or defeat of candidates. SpeechNow permitted unlimited contributions to such expenditures and facilitated the advent of super PACs. Although campaign finance policy remains the subject of intense debate and public interest, there have been few legislative or regulatory changes to respond to the 2010 court rulings. This report considers these and other developments in campaign finance policy and comments on areas of potential conflict and consensus. [PDF format, 28 pages]