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contributions to campaigns are skyrocketing. 
Campaign finance reform in the
United States refers to an effort to change or reduce the influence of money on
political campaigns. This has been a topic of discussion for years, but the
public has been more aware of the situation since reforms went into effect in
the 1970’s.  Every year billions
of dollars go into financing the election of candidates running for public
office.  Many candidates receive large
campaign contributions from a wide variety of contributors such as national
associations, religious groups, union organizations, large political action
committees, the country’s wealthiest people and other special interest groups.  Those making the large financial
contributions to campaigns expect the candidate to support their issues.  As campaign contributions continue to increase
each election it furthers the concern big money is influencing our political
institutions.  Finance information for
campaigns must be made available to the public by law, but that does not mean
it is easy to get the information.  The
information presented indicates it is becoming more difficult to determine
exactly where the money is coming from and in order to maintain our democratic
aspirations America must go down the path of campaign finance reform.

of the largest impacts of big money in campaign financing is the increasing
influence of corporate America in elections and policy development.  For more than 30 years after the 1970’s
Watergate scandal the Supreme Court and Congress were basically in agreement
regarding campaign finance regulations (Tony Mauro).  The First Amendment was considered a
consideration, but the perception there was a need for rules and limits to
reduce or minimize any perceived corruption caused by the influence of
financial contributions in campaigns took precedence.  The Supreme Court upheld the majority of laws
related to campaign financing passed by Congress that touched on the aspect of
political speech.  The pro-regulation
position was based on there being certain limits to free speech.  The possibility of campaign corruption should
override the right to free speech afforded by the First Amendment.  Contribution limits on a maximum amount a
person can contribute is a critical tool to combat corruption.  Congress started passing restrictions on
campaign financing to help stop advantages for wealthy candidates and bribery.

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the 1990’s a controversial influence in political campaigns and politics called
soft money surfaced.  The reality of soft
money was rich people, unions, corporations and special interest groups could
make unlimited campaign contributions to both major political parties.  This was changed when Congress passed the
Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002. 
The new law stopped soft money contributions, but also caused an issue
with campaign fundraising.  The major
political parties and candidates would no longer be able to receive what was by
all regards an endless supply of soft money.

created the Federal Election Commission (FEC) to be the enforcement for the
Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA). 
FECA required campaign finances be disclosed to the public and limited
the amounts and sources of financial contributions to federal elections.   This started to change in 2007 and then
altogether in 2010 in the case of Citizens
United v. Federal Election Commission. 
In Citizens United the Supreme
Court drastically changed course and struck down major laws restricting
independent expenditures in campaigns by unions and large corporations.  The Supreme Court decided restrictions on
campaign finance to protect against possible corruption was an acceptable
exception to the freedom of speech. 

Citizens United the Supreme Court
struck down a big piece of a campaign finance reform law from 2002 saying the
law violated the free speech of corporations to participate in the public
debate on political issues.  Restrictions
on campaign finance have been labeled as unconstitutional censorship of free
speech.  Campaign finance regulation
relied on issues of political equality, morality and protection from corruption
in elections.  The regulations go against
the Constitution by going against the protection of political expression in the
First Amendment.  Supreme Court Justice
Anthony Kennedy said, “Government may not suppress political speech on the
basis of the speaker’s corporate identity.” 
What was once determined to be acceptable restrictions and limitations
on corporations in the elections was now seen by the Supreme Court as classic
examples of censorship.  Justice Kennedy
wrote in the Citizens United decision
there was no basis for government to impose restrictions, in the context of
political speech, on certain unfavorable speakers (Mauro 2013).

Dismantling campaign finance laws
can create more incentive for candidates to bend their will to the people who
write the biggest checks. However, money by
itself is not enough to win a major election like the President of the United
States.  The super Political Action
Committee (PAC) behind former Presidential candidate Jeb Bush raised more money
in the first half of 2015 than former President Obama’s main super PAC did in
all of 2012 election cycle.  Many
opinions indicate it is important for the public to see where the financial
contributions are coming from.  One main issue
is candidates for Federal elections have finance campaign contributions and
expenditures reporting requirements allowing them to submit campaign donor
information on a quarterly basis and sometimes on handwritten documents that
must be manually typed and entered.  Super
PACs, the biggest source of big-money, that are the result of the Citizens
United decision can accept unlimited contributions.  Those organizations are required to only file
campaign contribution information once a quarter in general election years and
on a semi-annual basis in odd-numbered years. This results in information about
the largest financial contributors to super PACs not being available for public
disclosure until months after the contributions were made.  

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