Senator Obama’s recent fundraising success calls for a complete re-evaluation of the campaign finance reform agenda that has been prominent in recent years.
Campaign finance reform has been focused primarily on limiting the outsize influence that moneyed special interests have on our electoral process. This reliance on big donors inevitably draws our elected officials away from representing the broader, long-term interests of all of their constituents, and pushes them toward decisions that will please and benefit their largest campaign contributors. One need look no further than the recent Abramoff scandals for an example of the corrupting influence of campaign contributions on democratic governance.
Congressional efforts to address this and other campaign finance concerns have included the Federal Elections Campaign Act of 1971 ( FECA) which requires candidates for Federal office to report all campaign contributions and expenditures, and offers public financing to Presidential candidates who accept voluntary limits on expenditures. In 2002 the Bi-Partisan Campaign Reform Act (“BCRA” or “McCain-Feingold”) went further by trying to regulate ‘soft money’ – expenditures by third-party organizations seeking to influence the outcome of specific elections under the guise of “issue advocacy. “