... edited by Tony Sutin, Dean and Assoc. Professor, Appalachian School of Law

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Political Broadcasting
  • Political Broadcasting Laws (excerpts from US Code of Federal Regulations, US Code) (University of Wisconsin School of Journalism)
  • Explanation of the rules governing political broadcasting (Federal Communications Commission)
Campaign Finance

In this Guide...

Law Governing the Financing of Presidential Campaigns

For the November 2000 election season, the nominees for President of the Democratic, Republican and Reform parties may request a grant of federal funds for their general election campaigns.  In return for federal funds (approximately $61 million for the Democrats and GOP, $13 million for Reform), the candidates do not collect individual contributions and are subject to an overall spending limit.  Private contributions may, however, be accepted for a special account maintained exclusively to pay for legal and accounting expenses related to complying with campaign finance law. These legal and accounting expenses are not subject to the expenditure limit.  In addition, candidates may spend up to $50,000 of their own money on the campaign.  Such spending does not count against the expenditure limit. For more details, see:

Summaries and Explanations of the Campaign Finance Laws 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
Recent Supreme Court Cases 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
Leading Supreme Court Cases 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
Current Federal Legislation on Campaign Finance

The House of Representatives passed the Shays-Meehan bill in the fall of 1999 by a vote of 252-177.  After much fanfare, the Senate ultimately did not vote on the McCain-Feingold bill in 1999.  In May 2000, the Senate Rules and Administration Committee held hearings on the Open and Accountable Campaign Financing Act of 2000, sponsored by Senator Chuck Hagel (R-Nebraska) and others.  The Hagel bill would limit soft money contributions to $60,000 and raise the current limit on individual contributions to federal candidates.  Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) introduced S.2269 on March 22, 2000, which would ban soft money, raise the current limit on individual contributions to federal candidates, and increase public disclosure requirements for issue advocacy. On July 1, the President signed a law that increases the disclosures required of certain tax-exempt (section 527) organizations engaging in political activity. The primary Senate sponsor of the bill (Sen. Joseph Lieberman) has authored a summary of the provisions.

For more details, see:

Soft Money

"Soft money" is the term given to contributions to political party committees for so-called "party building" activities, such as get-out-the-vote drives and generic advertising.  Soft money contributions to political party committees are not subject to most of the restrictive limits imposed by federal law on contributions to candidates.  As a result, corporations (other than national banks and government sponsored corporations) may make unlimited donations of soft money to party committees.  Many consider these soft money donations to be a major loophole in the federal campaign financing scheme because the donations can be used to benefit the party's candidates for federal office. For more details, see:

Independent Expenditures

Expenditures made for advertising or other communications expressly advocating the election or defeat of an identified candidate, but not made in coordination with a candidate, are "independent expenditures" and not considered to be contributions subject to the limitations of federal law.  


Books on various aspects of campaign finance and the process of selecting our presidents:


Legal scholarship and commentary:

Legal Scholars

Law professors active in the campaign finance debate:

Studies, Advocacy and Opinion


A wide spectrum of organizations participate in a vigorous exchange of views about the need and best approach to revise the current set of rules governing campaign finance.  Some focus on closing the "loophole" of soft money contributions.  Others urge that sunshine remains the best disinfectant, and that a regime of unrestricted contributions and expenditures coupled with prompt and complete disclosure is the most effective means of policing potentially troubling implications of large campaign donations.

Media Coverage

Feature and extended coverage of campaign-finance related issues in print and broadcast media:

Presidential Candidates' Positions

Contribution Information on the Internet

Given that all candidate committees, political party committees and political action committees must file periodic reports of their contributions and expenditures, it is possible to search various databases containing these reports for the identity of contributors and the nature and amount of expenditures:

Newsletters and Press Releases

Press releases and newsletters of organizations reporting on the latest developments in campaign finance and election law:

Voter Registration 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧
Presidential Debates 覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧覧

More Presidential Election Law...


U. of Pgh. School of Law

Tony Sutin is Dean and Associate Professor of Law at the Appalachian School of Law in Grundy, Virginia. He previously practiced election law and litigated ballot access, voting rights and campaign finance issues at Hogan & Hartson L.L.P. in Washington, D.C., where he represented the Democratic National Committee, the Clinton/Gore92 campaign, the Tsongas for President Committee, the Presidential Inaugural Committee and others.  He has served on the Executive Committee of the Campaign Ethics Committee of the American Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, and on the Executive Committee of the National Lawyers Council of the Democratic National Committee. He is a 1984 graduate of Harvard Law School.