AN ANALYSIS OF STATE CAMPAIGN FINANCE REFORM
Karen Sue Middleton A.B., Mount Holyoke College, 1988
A thesis submitted to the University of Colorado at Denver in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts Political Science 1996
This thesis for the Master of Arts degree by
Karen Sue Middleton has been approved
Kenneth M. Gordon
Middleton, Karen Sue (M.A., Political Science)
An Analysis of State Campaign Finance Reform Thesis directed by Professor Jana M. Everett
This thesis offers a comprehensive examination of state campaign finance reform and uses five case studies to analyze the factors present when reform is enacted at the state level. For each state, I analyze the type and number of laws present during the 1993-94 legislative session, present data on factors such political party affiliation, and offer a history, chronology, and analysis of five states for further exploration. The case studies suggest that several key elements are necessary to implement effective campaign finance reforman active public, a perception that corruption exists, a supportive legislature and a media presence. Political parties appear to play a significant role in the type of reform introduced, as does the cultural tradition of the state. This thesis provides information for individuals seeking to introduce reform, hoping to identify the differences in state reforms, or trying to determine reasons for failure to pass reforms at the state level.
This abstract accurately represents the content of the candidate's thesis. I recommend its publication.
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE .................................................. 1
Money and Politics.................................................. 3
Models of Financing Democratic Elections ........................... 7
The Level Playing Field...................................... 8
Money Equals Speech ........................................ 11
Money is Special ........................................... 13
The Struggle for Resources ................................. 15
Summary of the Models of Campaign Finance Reform .......... 16
The Role of Interest Groups ....................................... 17
Interest Group Theory ...................................... 18
Political Action Committees .................................20
Federal Campaign Finance Law........................................22
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 .......... 22
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1974 ........... 24
Buckley v. Valeo.............................................25
Important Cases Subsequent to Buckley v. Valeo ............. 26
Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinions............... 27
Federal Laws That Apply to State Elections ................. 27
METHODOLOGY .......................................................... 29
Description of Data: The Types of Laws ........................ 31
Restrictions on Who May Give..............................31
Limitations on When Contributions May be Made ........... 32
Surplus, Transfers, and Enforcement ..................... 35
Selection of Data for Comparison................................35
Establishing a Method to Rank the Data .................. 39
Ranking the Data .........................................40
Selection of Five States for Analysis...........................45
FIVE CASE STUDIES......................................................47
Group 1: Minnesota .............................................48
The Midwest Region........................................48
Group 2: Montana................................................58
The Northwest Region......................................58
Group 3: Connecticut ...........................................66
The Northeast Region......................................66
Group 4: Alabama...........................................74
The Southeast Region.................................74
Group 5: Colorado..........................................81
The Southwest Region ................................81
Public Opinion ............................................88
Types of Reforms and Party Affiliation ....................90
Failure to Implement Reform............................... 92
REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE Introduction
In this thesis, I intend to study state campaign finance reform to discover
the factors present when reform occurs at the state level. To accomplish this, I
identify four models of election finance, describe the history and type of campaign
finance laws in the fifty states since 1974, and present specific data from the
1993-94 legislative session for all fifty states. Using case studies, I examine five
disparate states, identify common factors present when reforms are proposed,
determine the type of reforms introduced, and correlate that information to the
actual passage of legislation. This is topical because campaign finance reform has
been advanced in both the political arena and the media over the last several
years, and reform measures have been introduced into almost every state
legislature.1 A noted expert in campaign finance, Frank Sorauf, describes the
study of state campaign finance as follows,
In the experience of the fifty states, we ought to have the materials for a deeper understanding of American campaign finance. .The sad truth is that state and local experience remains the "lost world" of American campaign finance. In part the problem results from the paucity of systematic data in the majority of states, and in part it results from the unwillingness of journalists and scholars to turn from the flashier events of congressional and presidential campaign finance. But whatever the reason, our collective understanding of American campaign finance is the loser.2
Search of LEXIS/NEXIS, States Library, State Bill Tracking file (Mar. 30, 1994) [hereinafter LEXIS/NEXIS)].
2Frank J. Sorauf, Money in American Elections 294 (1988).
that can be spent is a convenient way of dealing with both problems."4 Despite
this belief, few studies definitively link contributions to votes. Nevertheless,
candidates appear to be spending more money per election cycle. Burdett Loomis
and Allan Cigler studied contributions and their sources, and compared them to
voting records in order to identify a link between politics and money.5 Alexander
summarizes the conventional wisdom in political science:
Although the public at large often views lobbying and special interest campaigning with distrust, political scientists have not produced much evidence. .Academic studies of interest groups have demonstrated few conclusive links between campaign or lobbying efforts and actual patterns of influence. This does not mean, we emphasize, that such patterns or individual instances do not exist. Rather, the question of determining impact is exceedingly difficult to answer.6
Specifically, three contradictory conclusions have been observed from these studies: (1) no data links money to votes or "massive" influence on the legislative agenda; (2) if the data is examined selectively to suggest influence, it is still not definitively linked as a primary or overriding influence; and (3) studies that examine votes over a specific time period in support of a specific political action committees (PAC) position will lead to increased contributions from that PAC to the legislator. However, according to Frank Sorauf, these studies are unable to
4Herbert E. Alexander, Campaign Finance Reform, 37 Proc. Acad. Pol. Sci. 132 (1989). 5Loomis & Cigler, supra note 3, at 333.
Alexander, supra note 5, at 131-132.
confirm whether the votes were cast in order to receive additional monies.7
Elizabeth Drew, in Politics and Money: The New Road to Corruption, does believe that money is influencing politics, and describes U.S. Congressional elections as a system that is "trapping" politicians, who feel the need to raise more money than their opponent, and who are compelled to seek funding from interest groups.8 Drew feels the appearance of conflict of interest is almost impossible to avoid when interest groups donate money to politicians. Simultaneously, political scientists, like Frank Sorauf, claim interest groups are responsible for a larger percentage of a candidates raised funds than in previous election cycles.9 There is a similar perception at the state level.
Amitai Etzioni describes the current electoral system as a plutocracy, where the economic "powers that be" are ultimately controlling political outcomes and policy directions.10 Etzioni contends that the economic powers are diverse, represented by corporations, unions, business associations, and interest groups.11
Supporters of campaign finance reform assume that money negatively influences the political process. Assuming this position for a moment, the argument can be made that the influence of money on the political process is
7Frank J. Sorauf, The Buying of Public Policy, in Loomis & Cigler, supra note 4, at 349. See also John R. Wright, PACs, Contributions, and Roll Calls: An Organizational Perspective, Am. Pol. SCI. Rev. 79, June 1985, at 411; Janet M. Grenzke, Shopping in the Congressional Supermarket: The Currency is Complex, Am. J. Pol. Sci. 127.
Elizabeth Drew, Politics and Money: The New Road to Corruption 94 (1983).
9Sorauf, supra note 2, at 321.
Amitai Etzioni, Capital Corruption 3 (1984).
influencing the basis of democratic tradition itself. Democracy, derived from "demos" and "kratia" in Greek, literally means the peoples authority,12 and refers to a form of popular consent or majority rule.13 American democracy has three levels, according to Etzioni, "the right to vote, the right to run for election, and the separation of public and private elites."14 If votes are being influenced or undermined by monied interests, or incumbents are kept in office with overwhelming support from PAC contributions, then democracy is potentially being affected at its very core.
Cass Sunstein, in his article, Political Equality and Unintended Consequences,15 offers three reasons for campaign finance reform. The first is to prevent corruption through the purchase or exchange of money for influence or votes. The second is the notion of political equality and the idea that those with more money can bring more influence to an issue. Finally, there is the idea that limiting the role of money on decisions "might promote the goal of ensuring political deliberation and reason-giving."16 Sunstein also sees unintended consequences of reform which he outlines as follows: it could become harder to unseat incumbents, particularly if equal resources are allocated; individual contribution limits could increase the number and influence of Political Action
12Arthur A. Ekirch, Jr., The American democratic Tradition: A History 2 (1963). liId. at 3.
14Etzioni, supra note 10, at 141.
15Cass R. Sunstein, Political Equality and Unintended Consequences, 94 Colum. L. Rev. 1391-92 (1994).
l6Id. at 1392.
Committees and/or increase the amount of "soft money";17 and limits on PAC money could increase individual contributions, could hurt organized labor and minority candidates, or could increase secret gifts. Finally, limits on individuals and PACs could hinder campaign activity altogether.18
While it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions about moneys role in politics, Frank Sorauf does point out that "the fear that contributors to a campaign, especially the contributors of large sums, will purchase leverage over public policy pervades Americans views of their campaign finance."19 Sunstein offers both the rationale for controlling money in politics and several cautionary notes that must be considered.
Models of Financing Democratic Elections Political financing occurs in one of two situations, according Daniel Hays Lowenstein and Stephen Gottlieb.20 In the first, someone gives money to the candidate who supports his or her policy preferences; in the other, a contribution is made to alter the elected officials behavior once he or she is in office.
I7Soft money would be contributed directly to political parties for support of candidates campaigns, typically through the purchase of advertising, get-out-the-vote campaigns, and similar activities.
18Sunstein, supra note 15, at 1410.
19Sorauf, supra note 7, at 342.
Martin Shapiro, Frameworks of Analysis and Proposals for Reform: A Symposium on Campaign Finance: Corruption, Freedom and Equality in Campaign Financing, 18 HofstraL. Rev. 387 (1989). Lowenstein is identified in the article as not only recognizing the first type of contribution is acceptable, but that to regulate that type of contribution would violate the spirit of Buckley v. Valeo, and the First Amendment, "unjustified by a compelling state interest."
Lowenstein and Gottlieb agree that the first type of contribution is acceptable, but each differs on the role of the contribution in the latter case. Lowenstein sees a contribution to influence a vote as corruption, while Gottlieb believes that money is just one of several influences on elected officials, such as the media, and inequities in campaign financing are consistent with inequities in the United States market economy.21 This basic relationship between money and the candidate is addressed by four competing theoretical models of campaign finance. These models outlined in the following four sections present differing assumptions about the principles that should underlie campaign finance regulations. As you will see, these models exemplify the types of campaign finance laws found at the state level.
The Level Playing Field
The level playing field model includes a variety of proposals that, theoretically, would serve to eliminate a perceived unfair advantage in the electoral process. Proponents of this model, including Amitai Etzioni, assert that electoral candidates should have equal access to resources, eliminating the unfair advantage of additional resources, incumbency or, for example, television advertising time. On the level playing field, everyone on the field theoretically has an equal advantage and an even chance of winning, with no special considerations.
In his 1984 book, Capital Corruption, Etzioni recommends full, voluntary public financing of congressional elections to eliminate the influence of private
2lId. at 391.
money and what he perceives as "plutocracy. 22
Edward B. Foley, author of the 1994 article, Equal Dollars Per Voter: A Constitutional Principle of Campaign Finance, asserts his belief that wealthy citizens should not have an inherent advantage by virtue of their wealth and proposes either a judicial decision or an amendment to the Constitution that makes all elections "wealth-neutral. "23 Foley bases his argument on an anti-plutocracy principle, and he considers equal advantage in the electoral process a part of this principle.24 Equal-dollars-per-voter gives each eligible voter a stipend which they donate to their candidate of choice-creating a government funded system of public financing supported by voter interest.25 Jeffrey A. Levinson offers another model where free broadcasting time would be made available to all candidates. Levinsons proposal would serve to reduce campaign costs, and to improve public awareness of campaigns and issues.26 Levinson compares his proposal to "handbills and town meetings in nineteenth century America,1,27 and sees this as the twentieth century alternative for delivering the political message to the public. A third model would establish public financing of elections to alleviate the basic tensions between the inequalities of the market economy and the
Etzioni, supra note 10, at 237.
Edward B. Foley, Equal-Dollars-Per-Voter: A Constitutional Principle of Campaign Finance 94 COLUM. L. REV. 1204.
uld. at 1257.
uId. at 1206.
26Jeffrey A. Levinson, Note, An Informed Electorate: Requiring Broadcasters to Provide Free Airtime to Candidates for Public Office, 72 B.U. L. Rev. 143 (1992).
democratic principle of one person, one vote. Scholars Jamin Raskin and John Bonifaz believe these two principles connote an equal relationship.28 They close their article as follows,
The time has come to abolish the tyranny of private wealth in the American political process and to replace our plutocratic arrangements with a democratic method of financing electoral campaigns.29
It is important to point out the difference between providing equal levels of public financing versus providing an equal number of dollars per voter, which enables a candidate with more votes to receive more money. The public financing model sets forth several criteria to make the argument in favor of revising the system, including the amount of money society invests in campaigns and the amount of time candidates spend raising money. Both models seek to minimize or eliminate the advantage of private wealth.
This model assumes that providing money in equal amounts will, in some respects, limit inequities between the candidates. This assumption does not account for the probability that other inequities will exist, such as the ability to run a campaign or to be perceived as a viable candidate by the voters. It also assumes that the availability of equal resources means candidates will spend it equally, or use the money in the most appropriate fashion in order to be elected. These limitations should be considered when applying this model to current and proposed state law.
Jamin Raskin & John Bonifaz, The Constitutional Imperative and Practical Superiority of Democratically Financed Elections, 94 Colum. L. Rev 1162 (1994).
29Id. at 1203.
Money Equals Speech
In a second major model of campaign finance, money equals speech, so it
is protected by the First Amendment. As described in Buckley v. Valeo?0
Some forms of communication made possible by the giving and spending of money involve speech alone, some involve conduct primarily, and some involve a combination of the two. Yet this Court has never suggested that the dependence of a communication on the expenditure of money operates itself to introduce a nonspeech element or to reduce the exacting scrutiny required by the First Amendment.31
Using Buckley v. Valeo as a basis for her argument, Lillian BeVier, author of Money and Politics, The Perspective on the First Amendment and Campaign Finance Reform, asserts that contributions and expenditures are "fundamental First Amendment activities" and people who support election campaigns are "intrinsically legitimate participants" fulfilling their role in a representative democracy. The author sees those activities as "the hallmarkas well as the indispensable precondition-of a free society."32 In the 1990 case, Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which upheld a prohibition on the corporate use of funds for independent expenditures in statewide races, Justice Scalias dissent sarcastically announces:
^Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1 (1976). A complete discussion of this landmark case begins on page 31.
3lId. at 24.
Lillian R. BeVier, Money and Politics: A Perspective on the First Amendment and Campaign Finance Reform, 73 Cal. L. Rev. 1054-55 (1985).
Attention all citizens. To assure the fairness of elections by preventing disproportionate expression of the views of any single powerful group, your Government has decided that the following associations for persons shall be prohibited from speaking or writing in support of any candidate: In permitting Michigan to make private corporations the first object of this ORWELLIAN announcement, the Court today endorses the principle that too much speech is an evil that the democratic majority can proscribe.33
In this model, money is a resource that is not inherently equal, and not everyone is entitled to identical amounts of money as is the case in the "level playing field" model.
Despite BeViers assertion, the media, the academic community, campaign professionals, and the American people see the influence of money on a campaign as unique and distinct from the amount of time spent or the number of people involved in a campaign.
Some limitations of this model are obvious. Money in campaigns is legally regulated by thirty-two states and the federal government, while speech is not. Political speech is regulated in terms of advertising time and money needed to create advertising. Whether or not contribution limits currently exist at the state level, the ability to raise funding is unequal. So, one assumption of this model-access to the resource of money is not equal among candidatesis accurate. It can also be argued that money buys speech in the form of signs or advertising time. This model offers an alternate theory of the role of money in politics and it can be used to justify the freedom to raise and spend money based on a constitutionally protected right.
33Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce, 494 U.S. 679 (1990).
Money is Special
In the third major model, money is special and is treated as a unique resource. In distinguishing money from other resources, the Federal Election Commission prepares and releases reports on campaign funds raised and spent, not the number of hours a candidate has walked her district. The campaign with 10,000 organized volunteers who invest 100,000 hours of their time canvassing, is not studied by academics, or included as part of an overall analysis of a success; rather, the raising and spending of 40% more campaign funds in the current election cycle, or the contribution of $5,000 by one individual, are thoroughly examined, analyzed, and reported in the media for its potential influence on a candidates success. This distinguishes money from other resources used in politics.
Constitutional scholar Laurence Tribe questions the notion that money equals speech, and argues instead that "the assumption that increased campaign expenditures translate into increased speech or communication is not self-evident. Arguably, even the marketplace of political ideas or the forums for political expression can become saturated. "34 Tribe asserts that money is separate from speech, and is therefore unique, or special.
Elizabeth Drew, a writer for the New Yorker, saw so many instances where money was influencing or changing the role of politics, that she published Politics and Money: The New Road to Corruption. She opens her book with the following passage:
^John Anderson, Election Campaign Finance Reform, 8 Admin. L. J. Am. U. 216 (1994).
The role that money is currently playing in American politics is different both in scope and in nature from anything that has gone before. The acquisition of campaign funds has become an obsession on the part of nearly every candidate for federal office. The obsession leads the candidates to solicit and accept money from those most able to provide it, and to adjust their behavior in office to the need for money-and the fear that a challenger might be able to obtain more. "35
Drew goes on to identify a series of examples of moneys unique relationship in politics at the federal level. Drew has a pragmatic approach to her research, as she witnessed how money, rather than speech, has been uniquely involved in influencing politics. Tribe, as a constitutional scholar, does not see money protected by the U.S. Constitution in the same way as speech. Both offer a different way to view money and its relationship to the electoral and political process, although there is no agreement as to how or whether it should be regulated as such.
This model is helpful in establishing that money is not protected, enabling laws to be created to regulate its role in elections. It provides an alternative to the "money equals speech" model without assuming that, since money is special, candidates should be entitled to equivalent levels of it.
35Sorauf, supra note 2 at 1.
The Struggle for Resources
According to David Himes, a seasoned campaign fund raiser, there are
three major resources for election campaigns: people, time, and money.36 In
1985, the Supreme Court asserted, [Preventing corruption or the appearance of
corruption are the only legitimate and compelling government interests thus far
identified for restricting campaign finances."37
Put differently, Sanford Levinson38 asserts:
To what degree should individuals be free to spend their unequal resources within the political marketplace by, for example, running for office, supporting the candidacies of others, or simply communicating their views on issues of the day through such devices as paid advertising in newspapers or magazines or radio and television?39
The struggle for resources model implies that there is a finite pool of resources and the person who secures the majority of those resources should, by right, succeed. In fact, spending patterns have been correlated to election success at the congressional level, but intangible factors, such as the benefits of
36David Himes, Strategy and Tactics for Campaign Fund-Raising, in James A. Thurber & Candice J. Nelson, Campaigns and Elections American Style 76 (1995).
37Gerald G. Ashdown, Controlling Campaign Spending and the "New CorruptionWaiting for the Court, Vand. L. Rev. 767 (1991) (citing Federal Election Commnv. National Conservative Political Action Comm., 470 U.S. 480, 496-97 (1985)).
38Professor Levinson is a professor of law at the University of Texas.
39Sanford Levinson, 1985 Survey of Books Relating to the Law: IV. Politics, Government and Public Affairs: Regulating Campaign Activity: The New Road to Contradiction?, 83 Mich. L. Rev. 939 (1985).
incumbency, may have influenced the data.40 Levinson describes how celebrity, such as having Wilt Chamberlain campaign for your candidate, is a highly useful, but unregulated, resource.41 Another valuable resource is the amount of time that retired people and other populations have to volunteer, as is a newspaper that supports particular candidates. Levinson asserts that money is "not the only socially useful resource that is unequally distributed. "42 In general, this model is favored by individuals who prefer less regulation of campaign finance.
Summary of the Models of Campaign Finance Reform
These four models provide different frameworks that help shape campaign finance regulation at the state level: whether the goal is a level playing field for candidates; the principle that money, like speech should remain protected from limits; a recognition that money is a unique resource to be regulated; or the determination that candidates should struggle to obtain resources to the best of their ability. The types of laws proposed and passed in the states should reflect one of these models. This framework provides a structure within which to examine the data.
"Frank J. Sorauf, Inside Campaign Finance: Myths and Realities 176 (1992). "Levinson, supra note 39, at 947.
The Role of Interest Groups
Integral to the discussion of campaign finance is the role of interest groups. Interest groups represent an organized source of funding that brings resources, memberships and issues to the election process. The public perception of interest groups is a major factor driving campaign finance reform. A 1992 poll43 showed that 74% of registered voters agreed with the following statements: "Congress is largely owned by the special interest groups," and 83% agreed with the contention "special interest groups that give campaign contributions to candidates have more influence over the government than the voters," and 85% agreed "special interest money buys the loyalty of candidates."44
Interest groups can be divided into four basic categories: Political Action Committees (PACs), business groups, labor unions, and citizen groups.45 Within each of these arenas, the interest groups might be funded by private for-profit interests, memberships, non-profit associations, or individual supporters.
The major function of interest groups is to influence government officials, which is accomplished through lobbying, electoral influence and financing, litigation and grassroots efforts.46
43(Citing Gordon S. Black Corp., The Politics of American Discontent) Fred Wertheimer & Susan W. Manes, Campaign Finance Reform: A Key to Restoring the Health of Our Democracy, 94 Colum. L. REV. 1129 (1994). The public opinion poll was released on June 3, 1992. Id.
45Phtt.ip A. Mundo, Interest Groups, Cases and Characteristics, 3 (1992).
Id. at 4.
Interest Group Theory
David Truman, who studied interest group theory in the 1950s, defines an interest group as having two major characteristics: it consists of like-minded individuals, and it influences society, usually over other groups. From his definition, Truman derives "a group interpretation of politics."47 Trumans theory identifies government as having "points of access." A number of developments have changed the role of interest group politics. Since 1960, the number of interest groups has grown at an incredible rate, and groups have expanded to include single-issue and citizens groups. The increase in interest groups has coincided with a decline in political party involvement and voting patterns. Other developments include: centrally located groups based in Washington, D.C., information technology, changes in campaign finance laws, increased activity of established interests and institutions, increased activity of public interest groups, and the rise of interest groups at the state level.48
47Norman J. Ornstein & Shirley Elder, Interest Groups, Lobbying and Policymaking 289 (1978).
48Loomk & Cigler, supra note 3, at 321.
In the Federalist Paper Number Ten, James Madison sought to control the effects of faction49 which he saw as a potentially negative influence on the democratic process. Madison recognized the potential loss of liberty in denying faction, and recommended two options for its elimination: "removing its causes...[or] controlling its effects."so As Madison determined, removing the cause of an interest or faction was unrealistic, so the obvious option was to control the effects of faction. The structure of Congress as a proportionately representative government, and the inherent control of the States by the Union, were created to reduce factions. Insightfully, Madison asserted that the obvious way to control a minority faction was to defeat it by "a regular vote. "51 But, if the vote was unduly influenced, then where was relief from this influence to be found? In the same way factions influence, so might money from a special interest group or influential individual.
Elizabeth Drew, in her analysis of Madisons assertion, says "he could only extrapolate from the society he saw and could not anticipate the sophisticated organizing of almost every conceivable interest, the skills that
49 "By faction, I understand a number of citizens, whether amounting to a majority or minority of the whole, who are united and actuated by some common impulse of passion, or of interest, adverse to the rights of other citizens, or to the permanent and aggregate interests of the community." The Federalist, or the New Constitution, 42 (Max Beloff ed., 1987) (quoting James Madison).
5lId. at 44.
factions would develop in promoting such interests, and the systematized raising and contributing of large sums of money in order to influence public policy. "52
Political Action Committees
Of the major types of interest groups, the political action committee (PAC) is considered one of the key players in campaign finance. Although not formally defined by federal statute, a PAC is "a nonparty, noncandidate political committee that is also a multicandidate committee," which means it contributes to at least five candidates for federal office, and receives funds from at least fifty people.53 PACs are the visible, political arm of labor unions, corporations, and other interests that, by law, cannot directly make contributions. The PAC is set up as a vehicle for individuals in the corporation or union to voluntarily contribute to a fund that contributes directly to candidates committees.
The modern PAC was initially formed in 1943 by the Committee (later the Congress) for Industrial Organization which established the CIO-PAC to collect voluntary contributions from its members and distribute funding to political candidates.54 Despite these early beginnings, it was the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1972 that legitimized the modern PAC by giving "corporations and labor unions the right to create, administer, and raise funds for the PACs, and
Drew, supra note 8, at 6.
Sorauf, supra note 40, at 252.
^Larry J. Sabato, PAC Power: Inside the World of Political Action Committees 8 (1985).
to cover all organizational expenses from corporate and union treasuries."55
In 1974, several election reforms limited individual contributions to $1,000 per election, with a $25,000 cap on individual contributions to federal elections in a year.56 PACs, on the other hand, were allowed to contribute $5,000 per candidate/election with no cap on donations to federal-level elections.
Additionally, public financing became available for presidential candidates. The combination of these reforms increased federal congressional candidates reliance on interest group funding while PACs were freed from financing presidential general elections, allowing for more contributions to congressional elections.57
A 1975 Federal Election Commission ruling further expanded corporate PACs by allowing corporations with government contracts to form PACs. While the measure favored corporate interests, the ruling was also backed by labor, who feared their own PACs might be eliminated. The 1975 regulation resulted in the creation of more than 150 corporate PACs within the year.58
In her article, PACs, the New Politics, and Congressional Campaigns, Margaret Conway discusses the rise in PAC contributions to federal candidates, and their increased influence on public policy issues as a result of these contributions. Conway also points to statistics indicating a rise in PAC
Michael Dorman, Dirty Politics from 1776 to Watergate 142-44 (1979).
^Jeffrey M. Berry, The Growing Role of PACs in Campaign Finance, in American Government 291 (Robert Hannel ed., 1988).
SABATO, supra note 54, at 9.
contributions and attributes the 1974 FEC laws to a rise in PAC formation.59 Conways assertions about PACs can be extrapolated to state experience according to Frank Sorauf, who says state sources of financing generally model congressional sources.60
Federal Campaign Finance Law
There is a distinction between federal and state level campaign finance laws. While the Federal Election Commission (FEC) regulates all federal election campaigns according to the 1971 and 1974 Federal Election Campaign Acts (FECA) and subsequent congressional reform measures, states pass and uphold separate election and campaign finance laws. In the years since FECA, Congress has developed and debated a number of campaign finance reform efforts, but no major reform legislation has passed.
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971
The 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act was the first major effort to regulate campaign finance since 1925.61 It was designed to limit spending on communications, specifically media, and to require disclosure of financial
59Margaret Conway, PACs, the New Politics, and Congressional Campaigns, in Interest Group Poumcs 129-131 (Burdett A. Loomis & Loomis J. Cigler eds., 1988).
Sorauf, supra note 2, at 296.
Congressional Campaign Finances: History, Facts and Controversy 39 (Congressional Quarterly ed., 1992).
resources through regular reports from candidates, political parties, and political committees.62 The new laws, which took effect on April 7, 1972, played a large role in Watergate, arguably one of the most famous cases of political campaign scandal in recent American history.63
The Watergate scandal was named after The Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., where the Democratic National Committees (DNC) offices were located. On June 17, 1972, five men broke into the DNC offices to search for confidential files and to correct a faulty wire-tap which they had initially installed on May 22, 1972. When a strip of tape, serving to hold open one of the Watergates exterior doors, was found by a security guard, the police were summoned and the burglars caught.64 The crime, which led to the resignation of President Nixon, exposed two major scandals: campaign funds were used to finance the political espionage of the DNCs offices and unreported private contributions to the Nixon re-election campaign were made just prior to the 1971 FECAs effective date. To underscore the substantial amounts of money raised during this time,
Of the $63 million collected by the Nixon camp, nearly $20 million
was in contributions from 153 donors giving $50,000 or more.
More than $11 million was raised during the month before the
aId. at 40,
^Dorman, supra note 56, at 142-44.
FECA disclosure rules took effect on April 7, 1972, including $2.3 million on April 5 and $3 million on April 6.65
The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1974
Following President Nixons resignation on August 9, 1974,66 President Ford signed the 1974 FECA into effect on October 15, 1974.67 The 1974 FECA included: the establishment of the Federal Election Commission;68 the introduction of federal campaign contribution limits and spending limits on both federal candidates and political parties; the expansion of public funding for presidential candidates beyond the general election to include pre-nomination campaigns and nominating conventions; and the introduction of disclosure and reporting requirements, including the formation of a single, central campaign committee for each candidate for all contributions and expenditures.69
Drew, supra note 8, at 41.
66Id. at 42.
61 Id. at 44.
68jSee id. The Federal Election Commission includes six voting members, two appointed by the president and four designated by congressional leadership, plus two non-voting members-the clerk of the House and the secretary of the Senate. Voting members must be confirmed by both houses of Congress. Id.
69Id. at 45.
Buckley v. Valeo
The 1974 FECA was immediately taken to United States District Court for the District of Columbia by several plaintiffs including: Senator James L. Buckley of New York, former Senator Eugene J. McCarthy of Minnesota, the Committee for a Constitutional PresidencyMcCarthy 76, the Conservative Party of the State of New York, the Mississippi Republican Party, the Libertarian Party, the New York Civil Liberties Union, the American Conservative Union, the Conservative Victory Fund, and Human Events, Inc.,70 on the grounds that the major "provisions of the Act were unconstitutional and to seek an injunction against enforcement of those provisions."71 Furthermore, the plaintiffs asked that the constitutional issues be forwarded to the Court of Appeals for review, which did occur. The Court of Appeals rejected the constitutional questions, however, and the case was taken to the Supreme Court,72 resulting in Buckley v. Valeo, a landmark decision that set the legal precedent for campaign finance reform. Buckley v. Valeo made several important distinctions. First, the case distinguished between campaign expenditures and campaign contribution limits, declaring expenditure limits to be in violation of the First Amendment on the grounds that they limited speech. However, it did argue that both types of limits were "at least in theory, entitled to strict judicial scrutiny.1,73 Since the Buckley decision,
70Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 13 (1976). nId. at 14.
nId. at 16.
73BeVier, supra note 32, at 1050.
several major cases have helped define the legal precedent for campaign finance judicial review.
Important Cases Subsequent to Buckley v. Valeo
First National Bank of Boston v. Beilotti struck down a Massachusetts law that restricted banks and businesses from making expenditures related to the outcome of referenda, where the referendum was not related to their business, property, or assets-known as the "corporate speech" decision.74 The California Medical Association v. Federal Election Commission upheld FEC limits on contributions from unincorporated associations to multi-party candidate committees, arguing that individuals were not prevented from "engaging in protected political advocacy."75 Citizens Against Rent Control v. City of Berkeley invalidated limits on contributions made to committees that worked for or against referenda or ballot measures.76 The Federal Election Commission v. National Right to Work Committee (NRWC) supported the 1974 FECA by ruling that NRWC could only solicit its members for contributions.77 Finally, the Federal Election Commission v. National Conservative Political Action Committee invalidated the prohibition on political committees to make independent
15Id. at 1051. 16Id.
expenditures in excess of $1,000 on behalf of a presidential candidate with public financing.78
Federal Election Commission Advisory Opinions
In addition to the many court cases challenging campaign finance reform, federal law has also been determined to supersede state law, based on Federal Election Commission advisory opinions in the following areas: where political committees are organized to support a federal office, when there are reporting requirements, where state public financing and spending limits exist for federal candidates or committees, where there is campaign advertising, when federal candidates who hold state office or work as a state employee, or when contributions are made to corporate PACs.79 In each of these instances, state laws regulating these areas have been overruled.
Federal Laws That Apply to State Elections
State candidates and committees must adhere to a number of federal prohibitions and limitations. Candidates and committees are, by federal law, prohibited from receiving contributions from federal corporations or national banks. However, contributions may be received from a separately funded PAC.
79Federal Election Commission, State and Local Elections and the Federal Campaign Law 7 (1992) [hereinafter Election Commission].
Federal law also prohibits foreign nationals-individuals or corporations-from contributing or making any expenditure in a United States election. If a U.S. corporations parent company is foreign, the U.S. corporate PAC may make a contribution or expenditure so long as none of the monies originate with the parent company.80
At the federal level, U.S. corporations, labor unions, and federal contractors are prohibited from making contributions or expenditures, but this does not extend to state elections. The data on the state campaign finance laws reveals that a number of states have chosen to extend this prohibition.81
Chapter 1 provides the background information necessary to thoroughly analyze the factors surrounding the passage of state campaign finance legislation. In particular, I highlighted the relationship between money and politics as viewed by scholars, I presented the four major models of campaign finance, I described the role of interest groups in campaign finance, and I related federal campaign finance law. A description and explanation of each of these areas of campaign finance reform provide the requisite information in order to identify factors present when reform occurs at the state level. Chapter 2 goes on to describe my data collection and methodology. In chapter 3, I refer back to this material and apply both the models and the principles of money in politics to each of five case studies.
*ld. at 2.
'Id. at 4.
CHAPTER 2 METHODOLOGY
Chapter 2 explains how I collected the data on campaign finance laws in the fifty states from the end of the 1993-1994 legislative session through November, 1995 and why I ranked them from most to least restrictive before selecting the case studies. It details the categories I use for comparison, the rationale for my ranking of the states, the selection process, and the data consulted for the case studies.
In order to identify state campaign finance laws, I began my research by reviewing all laws with the key words "campaign finance reform" using LEXIS/NEXIS, an on-line research service. Very few state laws contained these words, so I gathered a broader group of state codes using the search terms "campaign" and "finance." After reviewing the selected legislation, I discovered that these search terms effectively captured the laws in all fifty states that serve to regulate all aspects of elections, particularly campaign finance.
I discovered that state campaign laws range in number, language and complexity from state to state. Due to the volume of data, it was difficult to compare the states among each other using the primary resourcethe current laws in effect82. Grasping the types of laws found in the states, or the level of
Current is defined as the end of the 1993-94 legislative sessions for most of the fifty states.
regulation that existed, without a visual or comparative summary became an onerous task and no comparison existed using current data.
To overcome this obstacle, I began searching for a source that provided for uniform analysis and located Lobbying, PACs and Campaign Finance: 50 State Handbook.83 I was then able to extrapolate and input information from several broad areas for each of the fifty states (see Table 2-1 in Appendix 1).
This table shows state campaign finance reforms encompassing several types of laws, particularly those laws enacted since the 1974 Federal Election Campaign Act and the subsequent Buckley v. Valeo decision. These laws include: restrictions on who may give (columns II and IIP in the data); contribution limits (columns IV and V in the data); prohibitions on corporate contributions (column VI in the data); limits on when contributions may be made (columns VII and VIII in the data); disclosure of contributions, public financing (column IX in the data); regulation of corporations in ballot issues (column A in the data); disclosure or reporting requirements (columns C and D in the data); the use of surplus campaign monies; enforcement laws that detail punishments for violations; and the transfer of campaign monies (The last three items are not available in this data set.).84 In order to better understand each of these limits and to justify my use of some of these reforms to establish a ranking of the fifty states, I have outlined each of these law types in the following section.
Lobbying, PACs and Campaign Finance: 50 State Handbook, (Peter C. Christian et al. eds.) (1994) [hereinafter State Handbook],
^National Conference of State Legislatures, Campaign Finance Legislation 1993,2-3 (1993) [hereinafter Finance Legislation].
Description of Data: The Types of Laws
Restrictions on Who Mav Give
Of the fifty states, only Arizona restricts individuals from making contributions directly to candidates; contributions must be made through political committees. North Carolina specifically prohibits foreign nationals from donating to candidates or campaigns, but this is a federal prohibition and true of all fifty states. Of the restrictions on whether PACs or corporations may give, twenty states offer some restriction as to who may give, and ten of those states expressly forbid corporate contributions.
Corporate Activity on Referenda. It is of interest to note that, with the First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti decision discussed in chapter 1, corporations that may be prohibited from contributing to a candidate or committee are able to support referenda.85 Maine, New York, and South Carolina have dollar limits, while eight states have reporting requirements applicable to corporations involved in referenda and West Virginia actually bans corporate activity.86 It is unclear whether the measures limiting contributions would survive a judicial challenge.
First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti 435 U.S. 765 (1978).
The eight states include: Florida, Georgia, Iowa, Louisiana, Nevada, Utah, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The U.S. Supreme Courts ruling in Buckley v. Valeo distinguished between contribution and expenditure limits, deeming expenditure limits to be unconstitutional, but allowing contribution limits87. This decision upheld the states rights to include contribution limits to candidates and committees as a form of campaign finance regulation. States use these limits to attempt to reduce the number of large donations, to provide a "level playing field" for challengers, and, theoretically, to encourage a broad base of support for candidates who solicit a large number of smaller donations and reduce the chance of being influenced by a single large donor88.
Limits on the contributions from individuals or PACs/corporations occur in thirty-two states, while twenty-nine of those states limit both individuals and PACs/corporations89. Many states with contribution limits also suggest voluntary expenditure limits, which are allowed according to Buckley v. Valeo.
Limitations on When Contributions Mav be Made
Over the last several years, states have been introducing prohibitions on contributions during legislative sessions. This limit is an effort to reduce the
"Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 1 (1976).
88Herbert G. Alexander, Campaign Money 5 (1976).
890f the 32 limiting individuals, only Oklahoma, Wyoming, and New York also limited PACs and corporations. Of the 32 states limiting PACs and corporations, only Alabama, Indiana and Mississippi also limited individuals by contribution amounts.
possibility of a contribution being made in exchange for a favorable vote.90 Nine states limit when both individuals and PACs/corporations may give to a candidate or committee.91
Disclosure is considered by Herbert G. Alexander to be the "most basic element of any attempt to regulate campaign financing. "92 All fifty states require some form of public reporting and disclosure, although the minimum amount that must be reported will vary from state to state, as will the minimum amount allowed for anonymous or cash contributions. Reporting requirements are widely used, in part, to discourage candidates or committees from attempting to mislead or evade public scrutiny. Many states also require committees, interest groups, corporations and PACs to file reports of their income and expenditures on a periodic basis. Disclosure is used as a deterrent aimed at keeping political campaigns aboveboard. The data, in Table 2-1 Columns C and D, show where individuals or PACs/corporations are required to report their own contributions, rather than identifying whether candidates or committees are required to report, and in what manner. As reporting requirements and disclosure, of some form,
90Finance Legislation, supra note 86, at 3.
91 Additionally, the states of Washington, Texas, Vermont, and Alabama limit individuals only, while Minnesota, Iowa, and Kansas limit PACs/corporations only.
92Alexander, supra note 88, at 4.
exists in all fifty states93, I chose not to use reporting as a factor in the construction of my fifty state ranking.
It is important to note that, in addition to state reporting requirements, all federal political committees (party committees and PACs) are required to provide explicit reports of both federal and state spending to the Federal Election Commission. If a federal committee makes a contribution or expenditure on behalf of a statewide candidate, they are subject to state and federal reporting requirements.94
Since public financing of presidential campaign was upheld by Buckley v. Valeo, at the state level public funding and matching funds for state-wide campaigns can legally be contingent upon adhering to expenditure limits.
Fourteen states have some form of public financing, and of those states, ten require candidates to agree to voluntary expenditure limits. It is of interest to note that, according to the data, both Montana and Oregon repealed public financing in 1993, and California explicitly prohibits public financing-a decision that was upheld in court.95
wSorauf, supra note 2 at 288.
^Election Commission, supra note 79, at 5.
93State Handbook, supra note 83, at 120 (California), 575 (Montana), and 766 (Oregon).
Surplus. Transfers, and Enforcement
Three types of laws that I did not address in my data collection, but are worth noting, include surplus campaign monies, the transfers of campaign money, and enforcement laws. States have regulated the disposition and use of surplus campaign funds in an effort to prevent the personal use of such funds. Bans on
transfers of funds address the potential for a wealthy incumbent who might
transfer some of his campaign monies to another candidate or colleague.96 Several states have provided for specific penalties such as fines for violations of or failure to comply with campaign finance laws.97
Selection of Data for Comparison
After collecting the data shown in Table 2-1,1 extrapolated nine criteria and arranged it in columns and compared each state as shown in Table 2-2 and described below. The columns are organized as follows:
(I) The number of laws in place in November, 1995. This data was derived from an on-line search for the number of statutes in place using the search terms "campaigns" and "elections."98 The number of laws in place appeared to also indicate the states focus on campaigns and elections as an issue. For example, Minnesota had 179 laws on record, while Alabama
9SFinance Legislation, supra note 84, at 3.
71 Id. at 10.
98Source: LEXIS/NEXIS, state codes are located in separate files, Nov. 12, 1995.
had forty-nine laws related to campaigns and elections. I felt this criterion might provide a more complete picture of a states restrictiveness if it were included in the analysis;
(II) Who may give as the law defines individuals. This indicates whether there are restrictions on who could give in the state. This criterion was used in the Lobbying, PACs and Campaign Finance Handbook, and shows whether individuals are actually restricted from making a contribution to a candidate or campaign. As the accompanying comments column indicates, the definition of who was classified as an individual ranged among the states. In Georgia, lobbyists were considered individuals, and in Hawaii "persons" meant a partnership, corporation or a union. Despite the different definitions, only two states restricted individuals from making contributions, North Carolina and Arizona.
(III) Who may givePACs, corporations, and lobbyists. This determined if there were restrictions on these organized groups in the state. This criterion was also used in the Lobbying, PACs and Campaign Finance Handbook and shows whether PACs, corporations or lobbyists are actually restricted from making a contribution to a candidate or campaign. There was some restriction in exactly half of the states, ranging from a ban on lobbyists to special restrictions on public service corporations or businesses working for the state;
(IV) Corporate contribution ban. Nineteen states from Column III explicidy banned corporate contributions. Using a "1", I separately indicate if there is an outright prohibition of corporate contributions in the state. The distinction seemed necessary as in six states some restriction as to who
could give among corporations, PACs and lobbyists did not explicitly ban corporate gifts. This additional column allowed me to define the data more specifically.
The following criteria were used in the Lobbying, PACs and Campaign
Finance Handbook, where the data was organized in a manner that allowed for
(V) How much-individuals. This indicated whether or not contribution limits existed and what those limits were. For this analysis, I compared whether or not limits existed. Regulating the amount of money given to a candidate is a focus of campaign finance reforms, so an existing law limiting contributions is a clear indication that reforms are in place in a specific state.
(VI) How much-PACs, corporations, and lobbyists. This indicated whether or not contribution limits existed and what they were. For this analysis, I compared whether or not limits existed.
(VII) Whenindividuals. This indicated whether or not there were set time
* limits or restrictions on when donors may contribute and what those limits were. For this analysis, I compared whether or not time limits existed.
(VIII) WhenPACs, corporations, and lobbyists. This indicated whether or not there were set time limits or restrictions and what they were. For this analysis, I compared whether or not time limits existed. For both VII and VIII, time limits are a constraint placed on the contributor to control both when one can give and also how much can be given within a specific time period, such as an election year. Another popular time limit is a ban on
gifts during the legislative session, which is intended to reduce the opportunity for a donor to write a check in exchange for influence on an issue. Time limits indicate that campaign finance reform efforts are in place in the state. Connecticut, for example, specifically bans lobbyists from making contributions during the legislative session, but no such ban exists for individuals.
(IX) Public financing. This indicates whether there are provisions for public financing in the state. Public financing represents the level-playing field model in action-providing a base of funding for all qualified candidates. Although not in many states, public financing is a clear attempt to reform the financing of elections at the state level. Minnesota, for example, requires candidates to adhere to voluntary expenditure limits if they accept public funding.
To illustrate how Table 2-2 is organized, the following explanation uses Alabama, the first state on the list, as an example. Table 2-2 shows that in column I, forty-nine laws that addressed campaign finance were in place in November, 1995. It had no restrictions addressing who may give (individual or corporate), no individual limits, but it did have one or more limits on corporate, PAC or lobbyist contributions (indicated by a "1" in column V). Continuing to column VI, Alabama had no public financing, and some restriction on when individuals may give. Since there are no individual dollar limits, Alabama was assigned a half-point credit for a total count of one and one-half (two points for the two restrictions in place and a half-point credit equalling one and one-half).
Establishing a Method to Rank the Data
I ranked the data in several different ways before arriving at the final ranking system which is described below. I believe that each of the nine criteria measure an aspect of campaign finance reform, and the existence of several of these laws indicates a higher level of regulation in a particular state. I weighted the ranking based on the existence of public funding as it directly represents the "level-playing field" model. Conversely, I negatively weighted the ranking based on the lack of contribution limits for individuals and/or PACs, corporations or lobbyists as it represents the opposite of public financing-no limits on contributions and no ceiling on the voluntary limit of expenditures. Public financing, by providing a base of funding, attempts to offset the need to raise private monies and, in theory, gives the candidates equal footing. The lack of a contribution represents the "struggle for resources" model, where the candidate who can raise the most resources can, in theory, be the winner.
Additionally, I provided data on several types of laws such as whether the state allowed corporate activity on referenda; a summary of special state issues; and reporting requirements for individuals and PACs, Corporations, or Lobbyists in Columns C and D. While this data was interesting, it did not assist with the comparison for a variety of reasons. First, corporate activity on referenda has been determined to be legal in First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, as discussed in chapter 1." The state issues, although interesting, provided no point of comparison, and many states did not have information for this criterion. The reporting requirements in the states tend to be required of the candidate or
"First Natl Bank v. Bellotti, 435 U.S. 765 (1978).
campaign at a minimum, and also required of corporations, PACs, lobbyists, and for independent expenditures by individuals in several states. The data as it was presented was designed to answer whether the individual or PAC, lobbyist or corporation was required to report-the less likely situation. Furthermore, Herbert Alexander determined that some reporting is required in all fifty states, making this criteria useless for comparison.100
Ranking the Data
Using the criteria for all fifty states, I used the following method to rank the states to determine the overall restrictiveness of the campaign finance laws by state. I factored the number of limits using the nine categories described above.
As shown in Table 2-2,
I assigned one point in each category where the limit existed, and left the category blank if no restriction existed. For example, in Alabama there are contribution limits for corporations, lobbyists or PACs, so I placed a "1" in that box. However, there are no contribution limits on individuals, so that column is left blank.
I sorted the table by the number of points based on existing criteria, plus I gave added weight for states with public financing, which represents a perceived "highest" level of restriction in the range of reforms enacted. This helps to distinguish among those states with more restrictions in place, such as Massachusetts and Minnesota,
100Alexander, supra note 88, at 4.
I assigned a one point credit (negative weight) for states with no limits on dollars given-distinguishing between a one-half credit if either "individuals" or "corporations, PACS and Lobbyists" had no limit, and a one point credit if neither group had a limit, which represents a perceived "lowest" level of restriction in the range of reforms enacted. This helps to distinguish among those states with few or no restrictions in place, such as Colorado and Virginia,
I added the scores from columns II through XI and those totals appear in column XII,
To distinguish among states with the same score in column XII, I then sorted the states by the number of campaign finance laws in place, which represents a general sense of restrictiveness, to achieve a final rank as shown in Table 2-2. For example, five states had a score of "3.0", but of those states, Kansas had 126 laws in place as of November, 1995 while Vermont had just twenty-four in place.
An overall rank was established for each state as shown in Table 2-3.
Ranking of Fifty States
Column I 11 III IV V VI VII
State #Iaws 95 1 who/ind 1 who/corp ind-lim.$ corp-lim.S 1 no corp. $ I pub.fin.
Alabama 49.0 1
Alaska 39.0 1 1
Arizona 40.0 1 1 1 1 1
Arkansas 47.0 1 1
California 257.0 1 1
Connecticut 48.0 1 1 1
Delaware 31.0 1 1
Florida 103.0 1 1 I
Georgia 110.0 1 1
Hawaii 81.0 1 1 1
Illinois 87.0 1 1
Indiana 124.0 1
Iowa 62.0 1 1 1
Kansas 126.0 1 1
Kentucky 104.0 1 1 1 1 1
Louisiana 80.0 1 1
Maine 61.0 1 1 1
Maryland 50.0 1 1 1
Massachusetts 117.0 1 1 1 1 1
Michigan 125.0 1 1 1
Minnesota 170.0 1 1 1 1 1
Mississippi 39.0 1
Missouri 47.0 1 1
Montana 124.0 I 1 1 1
Nebraska 39.0 1
Nevada 69.0 1 1
New Hampshire 24.0 1 1 1 1
New Jersey 91.0 1 1 1
New Mexico 50.0
New York 161.0 1
North Carolina 95.0 1 1 1 1 1
North Dakota 23.0 1 1
Ohio 79.0 1
Oklahoma 74.0 1 1 1
Pennsylvania 31.0 1 1
Rhode Island 54.0 1 1 1 1
South Carolina 73.0 1 1 1
South Dakota 85.0 1 1 1 1
Tennessee 72.0 1 1
Texas 190.0 1 1
Vermont 24.0 1 1
Washington 91.0 1 1 1
West Virginia 29.0 1 1 1 1
Wisconsin 78.0 1 1 I I 1
Wyoming 53.0 1 1 1
Table 2-2 (cont.)
Ranking of Fifty States
Column VIII IX X XI XII 1 XII
State when/ind. 1 when/PAC + pub.fin -nolimit 1 total 1 new rank
Alabama 1 -0.5 1.5 36
Alaska 1 1 4.0 20
Arizona 1 1 7.0 2
Arkansas 1 1 4.0 19
California 2.0 30
Colorado 1 1 -1 1.0 41
Connecticut 3.0 26
Delaware 2.0 35
Florida 1 1 5.0 7
Georgia 1 1 4.0 10
Hawaii 1 4.0 14
Idaho 0.0 49
Illinois 1 -1 2.0 32
Indiana -0.5 0.5 45
Iowa 1 1 -1 4.0 15
Kansas 1 3.0 23
Kentucky 1 6.0 4
Louisiana 2.0 33
Maine 1 4.0 16
Maryland 1 4.0 18
Massachusetts 1 6.0 3
Michigan 1 4.0 8
Minnesota 1 1 7.0 1
Mississippi -0.5 0.5 46
Missouri -1 1.0 40
Montana 4.0 9
Nebraska 1 2.0 34
Nevada 1 1 -1 3.0 25
New Hampshire 4.0 22
New Jersey 1 4.0 11
New Mexico 1 1 -1 1.0 39
New York -0.5 0.5 44
North Carolina 1 6.0 5
North Dakota -1 1.0 43
Ohio -1 0.0 47
Oklahoma -0.5 2.5 28
Oregon 1 1 -1 1.0 37
Pennsylvania -1 1.0 42
Rhode Island 4.0 17
South Carolina 3.0 24
South Dakota 4.0 13
Tennessee -1 1.0 38
Texas 1 -1 2.0 31
Utah 0.0 48
Vermont 1 3.0 27
Virginia 0.0 50
Washington 1 4.0 12
West Virginia 4.0 21
Wisconsin 1 6.0 6
Wyoming -0.5 2.5 29
Final Rank and Categorization of Fifty States
final rank State Rank i House -1994 Senate -1994 Region
1 Minnesota 1 D D MW
1 Arizona 2 R R r sw
1 Massachusetts 3 D D NE
1 Kentucky 4 D D MW
1 North Carolina 5 R D SE
1 Wisconsin 6 R R MW
1 Florida 7 D R SE
1 Michigan 8 R R MW
I Montana 9 R R NW
2 Georgia 10 D D SE
2 New Jersey 11 R R NE
2 Washington 12 R D r NW
2 South Dakota 13 R R NW
2 Hawaii 14 D D NW
2 Iowa 15 R D MW
2 Maine 16 D R NE
2 Rhode Island 17 D D NE
2 Maryland 18 D D NE
2 Arkansas 19 D D SE
3 Alaska 20 R R NW
3 West Virginia 21 D D MW
3 New Hampshire 22 R R NE
3 Kansas 23 R R MW
3 South Carolina 24 R D SE
3 Nevada 25 = R SW
3 Connecticut 26 D R NE
3 Vermont 27 D R NE
3 Oklahoma 28 D D SW
3 Wyoming 29 R R NW
4 California 30 R R SW
4 Texas 31 D D SW
4 Illinois 32 R R MW
4 Louisiana 33 D D SE
4 Nebraska 34 N/A N/A MW
4 Delaware 35 R D NE
4 Alabama 36 D D SE
4 Oregon 37 R R NW
4 Tennessee 38 D D SE
4 New Mexico 39 D D SW
5 Missouri 40 D D MW
5 Colorado 41 R R SW
' 5 Pennsylvania 42 R R NE
5 North Dakota 43 R R NW
5 New York 44 D R NE
5 Indiana 45 R R MW
5 Mississippi 46 D D SE
5 Ohio 47 R R MW
5 Utah 48 R R SW
5 Idaho 49 R R NW
5 Virginia 50 D = SE
Selection of Five States for Analysis
After analyzing the data for its overall content and ranking, I divided the list into five equal sections, listing ten states in each category, from most to least restrictive, and attempted to select a state within each of the five categories to profile and analyze for more specific information as shown in Table 2-3.
To provide for more specific regional and party affiliation data, I then added the party affiliation of the state house and senate for each of the fifty states, and I divided the states into five major geographic regions: Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Northwest, and Southwest (see Tables 3-1,3-3, 3-5, 3-7, and 3-8).
While several states, Colorado for example, is not traditionally considered Southwestern, the breakdown is fairly even in number, it gives the data additional definition, and appears to serve its purpose in this configuration.
I selected the states based, in part, to offer a representative example in each of the five geographic regions, and to look for regional or party-based patterns of reforms. I selected Minnesota from the group of most restrictive states, group one, as it ranked number one and has been discussed extensively in campaign finance reform literature for its particularly stringent reforms. From group two, I selected Montana as it recently repealed public financing, and for its geographic location in the West. From group three, I selected Connecticut as it is on the East coast and it was self-described as having both stringent campaign laws and possibly the most laws of any state101. From group four, I selected Alabama as it has had reported corruption in its state political system, its governor convicted of campaign violations and misuse of funds, and it is in Southeastern
101State Handbook, supra note 83, at 140.
United States. In group five, I chose Colorado as it is representative of Southwestern category and efforts have been made to introduce statewide reforms by initiative although few restrictions are currently law. I discovered a great deal of this information anecdotally through my early research of the issue.
I collected the data for each of these case studies using some of the most current media sources available in this region. For the states of Minnesota, Colorado and Connecticut, I used an on-line search service to review one major daily paper in each city from January, 1991-November 30, 1995. For the state of Alabama, I used an on-line search of several area papers from 1992-1995 plus a law review article that cited a major daily paper in Alabama. For the state of Montana, I used an on-line search of several area papers from 1992-95 plus telephone interviews. For each state, I also used published resources documenting earlier reforms, particularly those enacted before 1989.
The five case studies are presented in chapter 3.
CHAPTER 3 FIVE CASE STUDIES
This chapter provides a detailed examination of state campaign finance reform in Minnesota, Montana, Connecticut, Alabama, and Colorado. These five cases illustrate the range of current state campaign finance legislation from most restrictive to least restrictive. For each state, I describe the geographic region and present data on the restrictiveness of campaign finance laws as they are grouped in chapter 2, each states rank as determined in chapter 2, and the party composition of the states in each region. Then I profile the state with information on the size of the state, its political party composition including 1992 election information, and a brief history of the states socio-political traditions. Where specific contribution limits exist in a state, I provide data and analysis. Then, using media resources, I present information describing the states current political landscape and a chronicle of campaign finance regulation in the state. For those states that have not recently enacted campaign finance legislation, I characterize the influences shaping that states campaign finance laws and frame the debate as it is occurring within the state. The media sources assist me in identifying the forces at work to either enact or suppress changes in campaign finance laws. Finally, I connect the states law types and restrictiveness back to the types of campaign finance laws described in chapter 2 and the theoretical models outlined in chapter 1.
Group 1: Minnesota
The Midwest Region
Located in the Midwest region are: Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Ohio, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. There is no clear pattern of restrictiveness in the region, nor is there any clear political party control of the state senates or legislatures.
According to Table 3-1, there are four states ranked in group 1, one in group 2, two states in groups 3 and 4, and three in group 5. This gives the region a fair representation across the scope of state campaign finance reforms. Party control of the legislative bodies is also divided, with four Democratically held legislatures, six Republican held legislatures, one split-control, and non-partisan control in Nebraska (a unicameral state).
The Midwest Region Sorted by Group
Group State Rank House 1994 Senate 1994 Region
1 Minnesota 1 D D MW
1 Kentucky 4 D D MW
1 Wisconsin 6 R R MW
1 Michigan 8 R R MW
2 Iowa 15 R D MW
3 West Virginia 21 D D MW
3 Kansas 23 R R MW
4 Illinois 32 R R MW
4 Nebraska 34 N/A N/A MW
5 Missouri 40 D D MW
5 Indiana 45 R R MW
5 Ohio 47 R R MW
Minnesota, located in the heart of the midwestern region, is 79,548 square miles in size and has a population of 4.3 million.102 Both the state senate and house have a Democratic majority (the Democrat-Farmer-Laborer or DFL party). In 1992, Minnesotas ten electoral votes went to President Clinton, a Republican
102Rand McNally Compact Road Atlas 90 (1994) [hereinafter Road Atlas], Data is based on the 1990 Census.
(Independent-Republican or IR party) governor held office, and both houses of the legislature were retained by Democrats.103
History. Minnesota is described as "a progressive, liberal midwest plains state, renowned for its social responsiveness, higher political interest, respected office holders, and honest clean administration.104 Its government and political system is commonly referred to as "different," and its unusual party names-Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) and Independent-Republican (IR)-bear out that notion.10S Minnesotans are active in politics and in 1968 Minnesota had the second highest voter turnout in the country.106 Minnesotans also believe in citizen participation, they have a high respect for the law, and "laws in Minnesota have an educational effect."107 These characteristics are consistent with Minnesotas ethnic origins-Scandinavian and German settlers from New England who used the town-meeting form of government.108 This combination of high interest, high voter turnout and a strong sense of civic duty, leads to political campaigns in Minnesota which focus on highly visible issues. This has led to a
Election Data Services and National Journal 1 (1992 Election Results map (1992)) [hereinafter Election Data],
104Donald Leavitt & Bruce Nord, Minnesota's Changing Political Culture, in Perspectives on Minnesota Government and Politics (Millard L. Gieske & Edward R. Brandt, eds., (1977) 31.
mId. at 32.
mId. at 49.
mId. at 48-49.
Robert B. Harmon, Government and Politics in Minnesota: A Selected Guide to Information Sources. Public Administration Series: Bibliography P#2965 2 (1990).
balanced political system where neither party has remained dominant.109
Current Campaign Finance Laws. Minnesota boasts some of the most stringent campaign finance laws in the country, limiting contributions by office, and lowering limits in non-election years. There are voluntary expenditure limits in place, also specific to office.
Contribution and Voluntary Expenditure Limits in the State of Minnesota
Office election year non- election year Spending Limit (if accepting public money)
Governor $2000 $500 $1.63 million
Attorney General $1000 $200 $271,116
Sec. of State, Treasurer, Auditor $500 $100 $135,559
State Senator $500 $100 $40,669
State Representative $500 $100 $20,335
Source: Minn. Stat. @ 10A.27 (1994)
In addition to state limits, Minnesota offers public funding for congressional candidates who agree to abide by voluntary spending limits, although FECA Advisory Opinion has determined this law is not binding, as FECA supersedes state law in this area.110
110Lisa B. Forbes, Federal Election Regulation and the States: An Analysis of the Minnesota and New Hampshire Attempts to Regulate Congressional Elections, 42 Case W. Res. 511 (1992); seealso, page 32, Federal Laws That Apply to State Elections.
Minnesota Chronicle. In 1993, the Minnesota legislature passed a major campaign finance reform bill, the result of two bills introduced by Common Cause and Senator John Marty.111 After the House passed an initial version of the bill, a Star Tribune article stated that the governor did not support portions of the bill but, "the perceived public demand for prompt reforms may make it difficult [for him to oppose it]."112 The governor did veto the measure, so the legislature went into a special session and they were able to reach an agreement in a matter of days.113
The final piece of legislation is in some ways more conservative in its limits than the Common Cause version of the bill. There was debate on unequal limits for senators and representatives, leading to $500 limits for both offices.114 Special interest money is limited to twenty percent of the election spending limits, and interests are required to give notice of ad campaigns against candidates. The bill also bans transfers of money from one campaign to another, ends public subsidies for unopposed candidates, stops fund-raising during legislative sessions by caucuses, and prohibits "Friends of ." committees. Governor Carlson used
mDane Smith, Bills Take Aim at Power ofPACs in State Politics; Some Want to Cut Dependence of Campaign Funds on Special Interests, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.) Mar. 7, 1993, at IB.
u2Dane Smith, House OKs Campaign Finance Bill; Individual Contributions Would Be Further Limited, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), April 8, 1993, at IB.
113Dane Smith, Campaign Reform Bill Approved; Education and Crime Measures Also Passed. Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), May 16, 1993, at 1A.
ll4See Table 4-2.
the line-item veto to eliminate matching public funds for first-time candidates.115 The governor was also one of several politicians who accepted a number of high-dollar individual contributions before the law took effect.116
According to the Star Tribune, the states major daily paper, Minnesotans are extremely focused on the issue of campaign finance reform, the Minnesota Ethical Practices Board is very active, and corruption is widely discussed in the editorials, letters to the editor, and general news coverage; at least 328 stories discussed campaign finance in Minnesota between 1991 and 1995.117 A local poll in 1992118 indicated that three-fourths of the respondents agreed with the statement that "the government is pretty much run by a few big interests looking out for themselves," while one-fifth said it "is run for the benefit of all people."119 The article went on to say that national polls report similar percentages, and that thirty years ago, the ratio was reversed.120 The Tribune also reported that a nine-month investigation by the St. Paul Pioneer Press, described in a series of articles, fueled the public debate by reporting findings showing that special interests in Minnesota were achieving the majority of their legislative goals, campaign funding quadrupled in less than twenty years,
niCarlson Shows Cynical Lack of Conviction, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), May 23, 1993, at 24A.
U1LEXIS/NEXIS, supra note 1.
118Dane Smith, Poll Finds Anger at Moneys Role in Politics, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), Apr. 27, 1992, at 1A, (reporting a Star TribunefWCCO-TV Minnesota poll).
candidates were transferring funds to assist colleagues in races, and violations of campaign laws were not being enforced due to lack of funding for the appropriate agency.121 In an article three months later, the Tribune reported that the House Minority Leader, an Independent-Republican (IR), mailed over one hundred letters to lobbyists offering thirty-minute personal meetings with him in exchange for a contribution.122 This letter was very explicit, "I encourage you to bring your corporate principals/clients. .In return, I hope you will be generous with your support."123 Just after the November elections in 1992, two lobbyists, representing both political parties, authored an article in the Tribune urging Minnesota to overhaul its campaign finance laws, to eliminate PAC contributions, and to replace that funding with public subsidies.124 They write:
we think its time to sever the relationship between money and issues at the Legislature. .most importantly], it weakens the publics confidence in our system when theres a strong perception of political corruption and undue influence from so-called "special interests. "12S
These lobbyists claimed to write in their own best interest, as they were being deluged with requests for funding and feared their clients were vulnerable unless
l22Dane Smith, IR Leader Seeks to Raise Funds by Offering Time, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), August 7, 1992, at IB.
124Wy Spano & Sarah Janacek, Minnesota Should Send the PACs Packing, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), Nov. 10, 1992, at 19A.
donations were made to all the campaigns who requested them. The irony of lobbyists supporting reform seems typical of Minnesotas state politics. In a show of support for this line of thinking in the state, the Star Tribune published an editorial "Cooperate to Control Special Interests,"126 where the paper urged the legislature to work together to pass reforms, and ended by saying, "Campaign finance reform is one of the brightest remaining opportunities for the 1993 legislature to strike a blow for better government. "127
In 1994, the Star Tribune covered a series of roundtable discussions that focused on the 1994 elections. Despite the 1993 improvements to already existing laws, citizens expressed frustration with the political process. "[W]hat we think most average voters really want, are representatives that we can trust to do the right thing. .Right now, we dont trust [them] to do what they really believe is right, because big money from lobbyists, PACs, wealthy contributors and well-funded special interests is required and accepted to stock the election war chests."128
The Minnesota Ethical Practices Board remains busy, according to more than one hundred Tribune articles documenting various violations. Most notable are the many cases where elected officials report each other to the ethics board.
In one case, the IR party chair claimed that a candidate for office, a DFL,
126Cooperate to Control Special Interests, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), May 1, 1993, at 18A. 121 Id.
12*Jeremy Iggers, Roundtables Tap Growing Discontent, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), Dec. 5, 1994, at 2B.
illegally received contributions.129
Status of Current Reform Efforts. Based on the materials I examined, Minnesota reforms are intended to reduce election violations and corruption in the face of intense scrutiny by the public and the media.130 What cannot be determined is whether accusations are raised to drive media coverage, or whether there are truly more violations occurring in Minnesota than before reforms were enacted or when compared to the number of violations in other states. Many of the violations discussed in the papers involved filing delays or reporting discrepancies. The 1993 campaign finance reform package, hailed as a victory by reformers, did not actually introduce contribution or expenditure limits, but changed the dollar amounts, and otherwise fine-tuned existing regulations.
Scholars tie public funding to the Democratic party, which may account for the emphasis on limits and on public financing in Minnesota, which is known for its strong Democratic party tradition.131
Summary. Looking back to chapter 1, Minnesota campaign finance legislation reflects two important concepts. First, the public is convinced, like columnist Elizabeth Drew, that money is corrupting politics. Second, the levelplaying field model, one that provides equivalent resources, appears to be the model that can be applied to this state. The voluntary spending limits suggest that
129Dane Smith, IRs say DFL Senator Broke Campaign Laws, Star Tribune (Minneapolis.), July 24 1993, at 3B.
130Smith supra note 118, at 1A.
I3l"In general, Republicans seek to enhance the role of parties and individual contributors while Democrats prefer using public financing to hold candidates to spending limits." Chuck Alston, Party Fights on Election Laws Still Permit Compromises, 47 Cong. Q. 2439, 2440 (1989).
everyone is eligible to raise a certain amount of money. Of that, a portion will be
given to each candidate, therefore offering each an equal opportunity to seek the
remaining funds from other sources. Despite efforts to lower contribution limits,
to provide public funding, and to close possible loopholes in the law, Minnesotans
continue to believe that corruption is rampant throughout their state government.
David Strauss, author of Corruption, Equality, and Campaign Finance
Reform has an interesting perspective on this phenomenon.132 He thinks that:
[people ] concerned with corruption are actually concerned about two underlying things: inequality, and the nature of democratic politics. .Reformers who. .focus on corruption and ignore inequality are concerned with the features that may be inherent in the democratic process itself rather than in any system of campaign finance. The task of campaign finance reform is not so much to purify the democratic process as to try to save it from its own worst failings.133
Considering the stringency of the reforms combined with the level of campaign finance reforms, his assertion may be accurate when applied to the state of Minnesota.
132David A. Strauss, Corruption, Equality and Campaign Finance Reform, 94 Colum. L. Rev. 1369 (1994).
i33Id. at 1370.
Group 2: Montana
The Northwest Region
Located in the Northwest region are: Alaska, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Oregon, South Dakota, Washington, and Wyoming. As with the Midwest, there is no clear pattern of restrictiveness, and as shown in Table 3-3 the states divide evenly, with one states in groups 1 and 4, three states in group 2, and two states in groups 3 and 5. This gives the region a fair representation across the range of state campaign finance restrictiveness. Party control of the legislative bodies, however, is overwhelmingly Republican, with seven states being controlled by Republicans, one by Democrats, and one split-control state.
The Northwest Region Sorted by Group
Group State Rank House 1994 Senate 1994 Region
1 Montana 9 R R NW
2 Washington 12 R D NW
2 South Dakota 13 R R NW
2 Hawaii 14 D D NW
3 Alaska 20 R R NW
3 Wyoming 29 R R NW
4 Oregon 37 R R NW
5 North Dakota 43 R R NW
5 Idaho 49 R R NW
With an area of 145,388 square miles and a population of just over 800,000, Montana is one of the least populous states in the union.134 Montanas three electoral votes went to President Clinton in 1992, when that states Republican governor retained office, the Democratic majority retained the state senate, but the state house was taken by the Republicans.
134Road Atlas, supra note 102, at 57.
History. Montana became a state in 1889, five years after the convention where settlers created a state constitution and then waited five years for a Congressional response.135 The first constitution was quickly written and largely borrowed from other state constitutions, particularly Colorado, California,
Nevada, and New York.136 It was replaced in 1972, where sharp regional divisions were apparent at the states constitutional convention.137 Differing political traditions are distinct to three vast geographic regions of the state, the western, the highline, and the southern regions.138 Polls following the votes, affiliation, and life-style issues show these areas leaning from Democratic in the western region to Republican in the southern region, which is interesting given the fact that Montana has overwhelmingly preferred the presidential winner since 1900.139 Common to all regions is the preference for direct democracy.
Montanans have voted on more than 150 ballot issues since 1914, and a growing majority choose to vote as independents, rather than join a political party.140 The rise in independent votes has made election outcomes less predictable, but this
135We the People of Montana...The Workings of a Popular Government 17 (James J. Lopach, ed. 1983).
mId. at 4.
131 Id. at 14.
mId. at 17.
139Id. at 15.
mId. at 59.
independent streak is characteristic of Montanans who "are an impatient people, politically. "141
Current Campaign Finance Laws. Montana established the Commissioner of Political Practices in 1975 to regulate campaign related practices, and established a code of ethics in 1977.142 Under current law, Montana has contribution limits in place for individuals and PACs that are specific to the office. Since the data used in my analysis was collected in late 1994, new laws further lowering the contribution limits were enacted in the 1995 legislative session.143 The new limits are as follows:
141 Id. at vii.
State Handbook, supra note 83, at 564.
Telephone interview with Ward Shanahan, Montana State Legislature (Nov. 29, 1995).
Contribution Limits by Office in the state of Montana
Office from Individuals and political committees (PACs) from Political Party Committees (i.e. state party)
Governor/Lt. Governor old $1500 new $400 old $8,000 new $15,000
Statewide Office old $750 new $200 old $2,000 new $5,000
other offices (for pub. svc. comm/state sen./other office) old $400/$400/$250 new $100/$ 100/$ 100 old $2,000/$600/$300 new $2,000/$800/$500
Source: Mont. Code Ann. @ 13-37-216 (1995).
Montana also limits the receipts of the candidate, which is unusual among the states.144 The aggregate limits that may be accepted by candidates from political committees equal the maximum contribution levels. While, for example, a PAC is limited to contributing $800 to a state senator, the senator is only able to accept an aggregate limit of $800 from all political committees.145 The rationale in this case is that a candidate is not going to accept one check in the maximum amount, but will solicit small contributions from several PACs, thereby reducing
144Sorauf, supra note 2, at 289.
145Mont. Code Ann. @ 13-377-216 (1995).
the likelihood of potential influence from one political committee.146
Montana Chronicle. In 1974, Montana enacted the "Public Campaign Fund," a check-off on income taxes that provided campaign monies to candidates for governor, lieutenant governor, chief justice, and justice of the supreme court. Montana is unique because it did not also require voluntary expenditure limits.147 From 1974-1979, the check-off collection procedure did not add to the taxpayers liability, but a switch to an "add-on" method in 1979 decreased participation from 18.3% of taxpayers in 1978 to just 2.7% in 1979.148 Ruth S. Jones, who studies campaign finance, predicted the demise of Montanas public funding as a result;149 a National Journal article indicated that the 1988 election brought just $1,900 to the gubernatorial candidates;150 and public financing was repealed in 1993.151
Montanans are also concerned about corporate contributions for ballot issue campaigns, and a petition for an initiative was circulated for the 1994 ballot.152
145Telephone Interview with the Office of the Montana Commissioner of Political Practices (Nov. 29, 1995).
14Ruth S. Jones, Financing State Elections, in Money and Pouncs in the United States 212 (Michael J. Malbined., 1984).
150Carol Matlack, Elections You Can Afford, Nat. J., June 24, 1989, at 1630.
151State Handbook, supra note 83, at 575.
152David Matlack, Inside Politics: From the Field, Campaigns & Elections, July 1994, at 5..
Of course, this regulation is superseded by federal law, and would be invalid if challenged in court.153
Montana has put into place some relatively strict campaign finance laws, with contribution, but not voluntary spending, limits specific to office. Public funding was repealed in the state in 1993, as it was ineffective as an "add-on" to state taxes, particularly in such a small state (by population).154 A long-time legislator with whom I spoke did not even recall the repeal of public financing, which was limited to the gubernatorial race.155
Status of Current Reform Efforts. In the most recent legislative session, legislators "easily" passed a law which reduced individual limits while increasing limits for political parties.156 Because Republicans currently control the Montana Legislature, this measure could be consistent with the assertion that Republicans favor campaign finance reform where the partys role is increased.157 The ease in passing reforms may also be due to the lack of competition for nomination as a candidate for either party. According to We the People of Montana. ., the majority of elections for both parties have been noncompetitive or uncontested; 78% of primaries between 1972-1980, and 63% of general elections.158 This may account for the emphasis on contributions to
133See Election Commission, supra note 79, at 2-8 and accompanying text. 154State Handbook, supra note 83, at 575.
Shanahan, supra note 143. l56Id.
157Alston, supra note 131, at 2440.
138Lopach, supra note 135, at 89-91.
political parties rather than individuals, particularly in parts of the state where elections are typically noncompetitive or uncontested. The lack of competition may also account for the lower level of public interest or concern about campaign finance issues. In this case, the reforms appear to be working as intended, particularly to the benefit of the Republican party, but Montana is also put forward as an example of reform by Common Cause and other reform-oriented citizens groups.159
Summary. Montanas campaign finance laws are patterned after the money is special model, as it is a strictly regulated resource with specific contribution limits set by election. Unlike Minnesota, however, there are no voluntary expenditure limits in place. Kenneth J. Levit points out that "limits, by their nature, inhibit debate. .and campaign expenditure limits only hinder political discussion.1,160 As Montanans have not regulated and dont appear to be concerned about the expenditure limits, perhaps their laws attempt to balance the need for regulation of contributions with the freedom to spend as much money as is necessary to promote "speech."
159Amy E. Young, States Adopt Key Ethics Reforms, Common Cause Magazine, April, 1993, at 47.
Kenneth J. Levit, Campaign Finance Reform and the Return of Buckley v. Valeo, 103 Yale L.J. 497 (1993).
Group 3: Connecticut
The Northeast Region
States located in the Northeast include: Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York,
Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. The states are again represented in all five groups, one in groups 1 and 4, four in group 2, three in group 3, and two in group 5 as shown in Table 3-5.
The four states in group 2 do indicate a greater emphasis on restrictiveness in this region-of the five regions, it is one of two regions with four states in a single group. Five of the states have split-control state legislatures, and the remaining six are equally divided by Democratic and Republican control.
The Northeast Region Sorted by Group
Group State Rank House 1994 Senate 1994 Region
1 Massachusetts 3 D D NE
2 New Jersey 11 R R NE
2 Maine 16 D R NE
2 Rhode Island 17 D D NE
2 Maryland 18 D D NE
3 New Hampshire 22 R R NE
3 Connecticut 26 D R NE
3 Vermont 27 D R NE
4 Delaware 35 R D NE
5 Pennsylvania 42 R R NE
5 New York 44 D R NE
Connecticut, with an area of 4,872 square miles and a population of 3.29 million,161 represents the quintessential New England state. It is centrally located in the Northeast region, and its legislature has split control. Its eight electoral votes went to President Clinton in 1992.162 Both houses of the
161Road Atlas, supra note 102, at 23. Election Data, supra note 103, at 1.
legislature were Democratic in 1992-the Republicans gained the senate in 1994 and a Democrat was governor in 1992.163
History. Connecticut was first settled in 1639 and was initially governed by "Fundamental Orders", a document created by early settlers which was replaced by a charter in 1662-one that would remain in effect until 1818 when the state established a new constitution. In its earliest forms of state government, Connecticuts laws were both independent and quite liberal. It is this long history that influences the current political fabric of the state.164 In the last thirty years, Connecticut has updated its political systems with redistricting, unifying the courts, and reorganizing the executive branch.165 Redistricting was necessary as just eight of the states 294 legislators were from urban areas and outdated legislation allowed for disproportionate representation from small towns.166 Compounding this malapportionment was the system of town councils, which controlled local tax bases and ran schools. Connecticut does not have a county government structure, so power was being held disproportionately by the towns.167 A constitutional convention in 1964 changed the composition of the legislature to more accurately reflect the needs of both
164Robert B. Harmon, Government and Pornics in Connecticut: A Selected Guide to Information Sources, Public Information Series: Bibliography P-2905, at 3.
l6SId. at 2.
15SI. Rtogway Davis, The Effects of Reapportionment on the Connecticut Legislature, 1972, at 1.
1S7Harmon, supra note 164, at 15.
cities and towns.168 This move also gave the Democratic party a majority in both the House and the Senate.169 This imbalance stemmed from Connecticuts original charter, where laws on the books had not been changed in more than 300 years. This type of problem is unique to New England states that were first established as colonies.170
Current Campaign Finance Laws. Under current law, there are spending limits for individuals, and differentiated limits for PACs formed by organizations and corporations. These limits are per election, and specific to office, as detailed below.
Contribution Limits by Office in the state of Connecticut
Office Indiv. Limit/Org. PAC Limit Corp. PAC Limit
Governor $2,500 $5,000
Lt. Governor, Secy of State, Treasurer, Atty. General, Comptroller $1,500 $3,000
Sheriff/Chief Exec, of a T own / C ity/Borough $1,000 $2,000/$ 1,000
State Senator/Probate Judge $500 $1,000
State Rep./Any other office $250 $500/$250
Source: Conn. Gen. Stat. @ 9-33m,q (1994)
168Rtogway, supra note 166, at 2. mId. at 27.
170James J. Valenti & Richard T. Galiette, The Problem of Representation 10 (1963).
Connecticut Chronicle. Connecticut is fairly restrictive, and has made a concerted effort to address potential problems in the campaign financing system. Campaign finance is discussed in 363 articles in that states major newspaper, the Hartford Courant, between 1991 and 1995, demonstrative of an active discussion in the media.171
In 1992, a major case of campaign fraud was widely discussed in the paper.172 Apparently, a state deputy comptroller, John Lepore, was making contributions in other names and paying by money order. There were allegations that Lepore may have gotten the job after funneling monies into state-level campaigns, and he was charged with 52 counts of felony.173 Just before the 1992 elections, there was an article detailing the campaign finance reports, detailing spending of a number of state officials, and comparing opponents files, indicating a high level of interest in campaign funding.174
In 1990, a law was passed prohibiting donations from lobbyists during the legislative session, one that was the result of "a four-year lobbying effort by the officials who enforce campaign laws."175 The law has resulted, in part, in a week of intense fund-raising events just before the legislative session begins. The
171LEXIS/NEXIS, supra note 1.
172Jack Ewing, Campaign Inquiry Nets Ex-official, Hartford Courant, Jan. 4, 1992, at Al.
174Bill Keveney, Johnsons Loans Swell Campaign War Chest, Hartford Courant, Sept. 7, 1992, at C6.
173Mark Pazniokas, Busy Week as Lobbyists Race to Contribute to Campaign, Hartford Courant, Jan. 30, 1992, at Bl.
Hartford Courant ran a story that detailed the events, costs to attend, and focused on lobbyists who would be in attendance.176
In 1995, The Courant reported on a new law banning candidates for state treasurer from accepting contributions with companies doing business with that office.177 This law was prompted by a campaign promise of the current treasurer, who accused his predecessors of peddling influence.178 A bill that failed was designed to implement public financing for the office of the governor and was supported by Common Cause and the League of Women Voters.179 The bill called for reducing the current contribution limit for the governors race from $2,500 to $250, and implementing an add-on check off on the state income tax return (similar to the system recently repealed in Montana).180 Supporters claimed that they had the votes to pass the measure, but the House Speaker denied that the votes were there, and went on to say the Republican-led Senate didnt have the votes even if the Democratic House approved it.181 The House Minority Leader, Robert M. Ward, confirmed the role of party politics on the issue and The Hartford Courant noted:
1T7Christopher Keating & Matthew Daly, Rowland Signs Bills to Cut Employer Costs, Hartford Courant, July 11, 1995, at A3.
179Jon Lender, Campaign Financing Dead Issue for 1995, Hartford Courant, June 7, 1995, at
Republicans overwhelmingly opposed the bill. .Ward personally believed that government funding of campaigns would inevitably lead to attempts to control political speech-as exemplified. .by a proposal last year to have the secretary of the states office put out a pamphlet listing candidates and their abbreviated positions on issues.182
A spokesperson for the Governor decried the "self-righteousness" of the Common Cause/League ranks, and their assertion that detractors of specific campaign finance measures are "co-opted by the system."183 This was one of first instances where legislators were publicly denouncing the grassroots supporters of campaign finance reform, rather than colleagues or bureaucrats.
Status of Current Reform Efforts. Connecticut resembles Minnesota in terms of media coverage, but there is not the same level of public debate by citizens. In addition to the state-level coverage of campaign issues, there is also significant activity concerning town and city politics. This is probably in part due to the "New England Town Meeting" model of local government in the Northeast, with selectpeople running town governments. While Connecticut has some campaign fraud, the majority of reported violations in the media are reporting violations, missed deadlines, and colleagues accusing each other of impropriety.
In the major case of campaign fraud, the individual funneling money to area campaigns was doing so without the knowledge of the elected officials, but on behalf of a local wealthy family.184
184Ewing, supra note 172, at A1.
According to Lobbying, PACs, and Campaign Finance, the Connecticut legislature has turned its attention to campaign contributions and lobbying activities which has led to "numerous hearings and bills."185 If reforms in Connecticut have been driven primarily by the legislature and the media, then the public may be less interested or concerned, particularly since stringent reforms are already in place in the state. Where lobbyists are restricted from making contributions during the legislative session, this may demonstrate how the legislature is regulating lobbyists. Since this measure now promotes a fundraising "hey-day" in the week before the legislative session begins, it is not as clear whether the reform is working as intended. Otherwise, the contribution limits do appear to lower the level of public debate on finance reform issues.
Summary. Like Montana, Connecticut campaign finance laws are patterned after the "money is special" model. What is distinctly different is the open criticism of the reformers, in this case Common Cause and League of Women Voters. I also point out the political party disparity highlighted in Connecticut. According to Tom S. Foley, "[T]here are stresses between the two parties that are natural and somewhat institutional when looking at campaign expenses. I think we have to admit that is the case. "186
State Handbook, supra note 83, at 140. 186Alston, supra note 131, at 517.
Group 4: Alabama
The Southeast Region
Located in the Southeast region are: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Virginia. Two states are in each of groups 1, 2 and 5, one state in group 3, and three states in group 5, again showing little regional cohesiveness (See Table 3-7).
However, this region is overwhelming Democratic-in six legislatures, while three are Republican and Virginia has a Democratic house and divided senate.
The Southeast Region Sorted by Group
Group State Rank House 1994 Senate 1994 Region
1 North Carolina 5 R D SE
1 Florida 7 D R SE
2 Georgia 10 D D SE
2 Arkansas 19 D D SE
3 South Carolina 24 R D SE
4 Louisiana 33 D D SE
4 Alabama 36 D D SE
4 Tennessee 38 D D SE
5 Mississippi 46 D D SE
5 Virginia 50 D = SE
With an area of 50,766 square miles and a population of four million, Alabama is located in Americas Deep South. Alabamas nine electoral votes went to George Bush in 1992, its legislature is Democratic, and the governor in 1992, Guy Hunt, was a Republican.187
^Election Data, supra note 103, at 1.
History. Alabama was settled as part of the Mississippi Territory in the late 1700s and was known as the Cotton State during the 1900s.188 Its colonial and agricultural roots in the South led to a large influx of African-Americans who originally came to the state as slaves.189 Slavery, the Civil War, and Emancipation were major issues in the history of Alabama, and conflict between the north and the "black belt" (the agricultural region) was significant. By 1900 African-Americans represented 45 % of the population, and Alabama continued to face political issues stemming from white supremacy forces, efforts to provide rights and opportunities for African-Americans, and the aftermath of the Civil War.190
Voting rights were an important issue in Alabama as early efforts to disenfranchise African-Americans led to proscriptive voting requirements, such as a poll tax. Following the Civil Rights movement and passage of measures including the Voting Rights Act of 1965, restrictions relaxed considerably in Alabama.191 The last three decades have seen marked change in the political involvement of the entire state, but Alabama is still considered culturally conservative and women do not participate in politics at the same level as
188James D. Thomas & William H. Stewart, Alabama Government and Politics 10-11 (1988).
mId. at 15.
l9lId. at 134.
men.192 Alabama has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the country and the state has seen a decline in its national agricultural importance. While Alabama has traditionally been a one-party Democratic state, there has been movement toward a two-party state with a wider range of issues than previously seen in the early dichotomy between agricultural and urban areas. Alabama now supports a politically conservative, and Republican, agenda although the working class continues to be Democratic.193
Current Campaign Finance Laws. Under current law, there is no contribution limit on individuals, PACs or parties, with some municipal exceptions. Corporations are limited to one $500 contribution to candidate unless they do business with the local public utility.194
Alabama Chronicle. Governor Guy Hunt was convicted of felony ethics charges on April 22, 1993, and was removed from office.195 Governor Hunt had converted $200,000 in campaign funds for personal use and was sentenced to 1,000 hours of community service.196 In August, the new governor called a special session of the legislature to revise the ethics and campaign finance laws.197 The legislature set about to reform the 1988 Fair Campaign Practices
mld. at 175.
1!MState Handbook,supra note 83, at 18.
IS5Peter Applebome, Alabama Governor Found Guilty of Ethics Charges and Is Ousted, N.Y. Times, Apr. 23, 1993, at Al.
195Ronald Smothers, Governor Finds Down Follows Up in Alabama. N.Y. Times, Aug. 25, 1993, at A10.
Act and the 1973 ethics law to "reduce the influence of money in Alabama politics, and in turn, make Alabamas lawmakers more accountable to the people they are elected to serve.198 In the final hours of that session, lawmakers passed "watered down" versions of reform and the governor vetoed those measures.199
According to Sharon Wheeler, the author of a law review article describing the failure to reform and a history of Alabamas state campaign finance laws, the loopholes in Alabama law exist because two separate measures address campaign finance.200 Current campaign law, for example, states that excess campaign funds cannot be used for personal financial gain and also says that excess funds can be used for "any lawful purpose."201 The combination means, in practice, that lawmakers are using funds to defray expenses so long as they are not illegal.202 Such loopholes apparently exist throughout the current laws. Despite the loopholes, Wheeler argues that the most significant reason reform failed was the lack of public support for the measures: "Until the public becomes concerned about the abuses taking place, the loopholes that allow those abuses are destined to remain."203 According to the Speaker of the House, "We havent gotten any
198Sharon E. Wheeler, Money in Politics: Reforming Alabamas Campaign Finance and Ethics Laws, 45 Ala. L. Rev. 675 (1994).
Id. at 678. mId.
Id. at 706.
letters on this. Its just not a high priority with the public but its a high priority with the media. 204
The author of a recent article in The Montgomery Advertiser called for a "simple and concise campaign finance law.1,205 She decried the lack of contribution limits on PACs or individuals, and cited a $1 million contribution to a gubernatorial candidate as one excess. The article urged voters to take action and limit the special interest from accessing politicians, and indicated that until change is made, the politicians are not doing anything wrong, as big contributions are perfectly legal, and [t]his is a system we have allowed to dominate the political process."206
On the heels of a major case of corruption, Alabamas Governor Jim Folsom went into office in 1993 determined to enact new campaign finance laws. As Wheeler pointed out, one major loophole appeared to be the existence of two separate acts-ethics and campaign finance-that had gaps in their interpretation.
In addition, no contribution limits exist in the state, and efforts were made by the governor and some members of the legislature to correct the situation. The measure did not pass, and scholars and legislators blamed the apathetic and disinterested public for failing to exert pressure on the legislators to make a change.207 Even in recent months, citizens have written letters to the editor
Id. at 707.
M5Betty Cork, Current Campaign Finance System Bypasses Voters, Montgomery Advertiser, Nov. 12, 1995, at IF.
See Wheeler, supra note 198, at 675; see also, Cork, supra note 205, at IF.
urging others to act in the face of corruption, and blaming the public for their inaction.
Status of Current Reform Efforts. Clearly public interest is a factor in whether reforms are considered adequate. Reforms are not passing in Alabama, and the missing ingredient appears to be the citizen activists.
Summary. Under current law, Alabama is modeled after "the struggle for resources" model. With no contribution or expenditure limits in place, candidates must amass the necessary resources in order to be elected. Unlike the three states previously discussed, Alabama has relatively few constraints on the candidates ability to outspend opponents. As Alabama has recently attempted, and failed, to pass campaign finance reform legislation, this state does not appear to have all the elements in place necessary to support reforms.
Group 5: Colorado
The Southwest Region
Located in the Southwest region are: Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas, and Utah. Again, no regional patterns exist, as there is one state in group 1, two states in groups 3 and 5, and three states in group 4 (see Table 3-8). Four state legislatures are controlled by Republicans, another has a Republican majority in one house and split control in the other, and three are controlled by Democrats.
The Southwest Region Sorted by Group
Group State Rank House 1994 Senate 1994 Region
1 Arizona 2 R R SW
3 Nevada 25 R SW
3 Oklahoma 28 D D SW
4 California 30 R R SW
4 Texas 31 D D SW
4 New Mexico 39 D D SW
5 Colorado 41 R R SW
5 Utah 48 R R SW
Colorado, with an area of 103,598 square miles and a population of 3.3
million, is situated along the Continental Divide. Colorado is politically unique as it has a large metropolitan center and very rural areas-it was a swing state in the 1992 election and its eight electoral votes went to President Clinton. It has a Democratic governor, and a Republican legislature.
History. Colorado was acquired by the United States as part of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and was initially settled by trappers, miners, and gold seekers.208 A gold rush brought Denvers early inhabitants to settle in the state, followed by silver mining, railroad-building, cattle ranching, colony towns, and later, agriculture. Colorado became a state in 1876 and continued to develop in size and economy.209 The construction of military facilities, such as Lowry and Peterson Air Force Bases, during World War II and the influx of military personnel led to a post-war population growth.210 Skiing and tourism led to further economic growth in the 1950s and 1960s.211 Colorados political culture combines both the individualistic nature of its ranchers, miners, and farmers, with a moralistic culture that stresses values and community. These two cultures clash for dominance in state politics and can be seen in the case of campaign finance reform.212
M8Thomas e. Cronin & Robert D. Loevy, Colorado Politics and Government 53 (1993). ld. at 36-44.
2l0Id. at 50.
2nId. at 52.
2l2Id. at 53.
Current Campaign Finance Laws. Under current Colorado Revised Statutes, there are no maximum campaign spending limits, and no limits on size of contributions, although within sixteen days of an election, contributions of more than $500 must be reported to the Secretary of States office within forty-eight hours ,213
During the 1993, 1994, and 1995 legislative sessions, campaign finance measures were introduced at the state legislature, but nothing significant has been adopted into law. In 1994, Amendment Fifteen, an initiative on campaign finance reform, was put on the state ballot and supported by The Denver Post in an editorial, but it also failed to pass.
Colorado Chronicle. Unlike Minnesota, Colorado does not have extensive news coverage or debate over campaign violations or possible corruption. Just 115 stories mentioned campaign finance, and many were discussing the legislative agenda rather than expressing an opinion.214 In one election violation case, the judge hearing the case decided the organization in question should not be fined as they did not "knowingly" violate current law.215 Unlike Minnesota, the news coverage does not reflect the same sense of deep distrust in possible campaign violations.
The state legislatures failure to enact any state campaign finance laws is the subject of debate in the media. In 1994, a House bill, one that was written
213Colo. Rev. Stat. @ 14-5-106 (1990).
214LEXIS/NEXIS, supra note 1.
215Robert Kowalski, Amendment 2 Foe Broke Law on Campaign Finance but Judge Opposes Fining Group, Denver Post, Jan. 1, 1994, atB2.
with the help of Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, was killed in committee. Its failure led to several initiatives on the state ballot.216 Legislators sitting in the committee that killed the bill made comments including: "The general public doesnt give one darn bit about how much money anyones got,"217 "Do you know of any corruption or FBI stings?,"218 and another described Colorado as "the only state in the union without graft, to my knowledge. "219 Clearly, the impression of voters has influenced the legislators motivation to act in this state. The bills sponsor, Ken Gordon, said, "Even if the majority of the problem is [public] perception, we still need to do something about it. "22
One citizen, in a letter to the editor, suggested that financing be limited to donors in the candidates district,221 and another asserts that the legislature needs to be monitored more closely and the state needs campaign finance regulations "to reign in special interests and unscrupulous public officials."222 These letters suggest that there is support for campaign finance reform, but the public does not seem to be as concerned about the issue.
Plans are underway to put another initiative on the 1996 ballot, particularly
216Fred Brown, A Flood of Reform Proposals, Denver Post, Feb. 16, 1994, at B7.
221Letters to the Post, Denver Post, Aug. 26, 1994, at BIO.
222Letters to the Post, Denver Post, May 21, 1995, at D2.
after a series of campaign finance measures died with the end of the 1995 legislative session in May, 1995.223 The states Common Cause director was quoted as saying, "This legislative session really demonstrates that a ballot initiative is the only way to get campaign finance reform.1,224
Colorados media is periodically enthusiastic about campaign finance reform, as the editorial supporting a 1994 ballot measure demonstrates,225 but the legislature has failed to pass any recent legislation. Citizens who do support reforms blames the legislature for the inaction, and see the ballot initiative as their only alternative.
Status of Current Reform Efforts. State Representative Ken Gordon, a Democrat, working closely with Common Cause and the League of Women Voters, supports major reforms and has authored a bill for public funding, but none of his measures has been successful. The dominance of a Republican legislature is a possible factor in the lack of reform laws, but there is not much media coverage of election violations or fraud. The Denver Post has reported extremely high campaign costs for gubernatorial races, but does not typically report candidates finances as is the case in Connecticut. Plans are underway to introduce another ballot initiative in the fall of 1996.
Summary. Like Alabama, Colorado follows the "struggle for resources" model. There are no contribution or expenditure limits and candidates are in a position to amass the necessary resources to win an election. While Colorado
^Jennifer Gavin, Political finance bill dies on vine, DENVER Post, May 10, 1995, at Bl.
223Amendment 15 is Real Reform; Amendment 12 is a Ripoff, Denver Post, Oct. 30,1994, at 2E.
does not have the type of corruption charges found in Alabama, it does have a motivated group of citizens that is using the initiative process to bypass the legislature. In fact, Colorados public and the media blame the legislature for failing to implement reforms, rather than blaming an inactive public as in Alabama. The distinction between an inactive legislature and an inactive public does seem important in the process of implementing effective campaign finance laws.
CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION
This thesis was designed to discover the factors and the motivation behind the statement, "At the state level, the issue of campaign finance reform has been advanced in both the political arena and the media, and over the last several years, campaign finance reform measures have been introduced into almost every state legislature. "226 More specifically, I have set out to examine why state campaign finance reform has been introduced so frequently; yet, the states vary in number, stringency and method of controlling the process of campaign finance reform.
To answer this query, I have described the theoretical basis for campaign finance reform, discussed the ways that money is used in politics, and explored the history of campaign finance reform since 1971. I have provided a comprehensive picture of campaign finance at the state level by collecting and describing current data on campaign finance laws for all fifty states. To examine the process of introducing and implementing campaign finance measures at the state level, I provided case studies of five states that represent diverse levels of restrictiveness in their campaign finance laws and distinct geographical regions. I specifically targeted the media as a source to look for ties between the legislators, the media, and the level of public debate.
My case studies drew out several key points that should be examined more carefully in future research. First, and most importantly, states that successfully implemented moderate to high levels of campaign finance regulation, also held an active public debate over campaign finance reform as shown in the media and
^LEXIS/NEXIS, supra note 1.
other resource material. In this study, those two states were Minnesota and Connecticut. In both cases, reforms continue to be examined and proposed before the state legislature. This result seems to indicate that public opinion is an important factor in successfully passing campaign finance reform.
The April 27, 1992 edition of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, discussed on page 63 of this thesis, refers to a poll on public perception of the government. A majority of Minnesotans agreed that government was "run by a few big interest groups."227 The article then reported that national polls reported similar results.228 Frank Sorauf, in his article Public Opinion on Campaign Finance, believes that the decline of the publics confidence in the government has led to the increase in support for campaign finance reform-a method for reducing the effects of excessive influence. Furthermore, Sorauf feels that political culture plays a role in the American publics association between money and politics. Sorauf asserts:
It is that cluster of attitudes viewing money and wealth as overridingly powerful sources of political influence which we associate with the turn-of-the-century Progressives. From the imperatives of that Progressive worldview flow popular beliefs about political influence and about the ability of the monied "special interests" to thwart the general or public interests we are all said to
^Smith, supra note 118, at 1A.
This assertion is particularly useful when examining states like Minnesota or Connecticut, where public awareness of the issue of campaign finance is high. An article that supports this idea, written by David Strauss, supposes that people who press for campaign finance reforms in the name of corruption are "actually concerned about two underlying things: inequality, and the nature of democratic politics."230 Given the active nature of Minnesotas politics in general, perhaps the underlying intent is different from what might possibly be achieved through regulatory reform.
Like Minnesota, Connecticut has a strong reform tradition and a similar level of public debate, including a call for further reforms. In Alabama, Montana, or Colorado, one might take another point from Sorauf, which describes campaign finance as a low political priority for many Americans.231 Reasons for this are varied, but Sorauf describes a series of obstacles that prevent more public participation in the issue.
It is ... an interest they [the American public] find difficult to define, difficult even to understand in all of its complexity. Since they do not perceive it in terms of Democratic/Republican or liberal-conservative polarities, it eludes their most common political cues and structures of meaning. It is one of those issues on which judgment comes quickly, usually in response to potent symbols, but on which most citizens will be loathe to spend much of their
Frank J. Sorauf, Public Opinion on Campaign Finance, in Money, Elections, and Democracy: Reforming Congressional Campaign Finance 208 (Margaret Latus Nugent and John R. Johannes eds., 1990).
Strauss, supra note 132 at 1370. Sorauf, supra note 228, at 213.
political currency. It is far removed from their group and organizational lives, far distant from the events of their daily lives and the "gut issues" of American politics.232
The disparity in the levels of public opinion or debate in the five states as compared to the success in passing campaign finance legislation does suggest an association. Further examination of public perceptions in each of these states would provide additional research in the role of public opinion as it relates to the success of campaign finance reforms.
Another point raised by Sorauf, and raised in the case studies, is the relationship between the political parties and the types of reform found at the state level. In Connecticut, I discovered a striking instance where there was the admitted hostility between the citizen groups representing reformers and Republican politicians. This discord appeared to bring forward the differences in political priorities based on party affiliation, particularly in the case of campaign finance reform.
Types of Reforms and Party Affiliation In A Conservative Agenda for Campaign Finance Reform, published by the Heritage Foundation, the author claimed that current campaign finance regulations "favor incumbents and such contributors as union and corporate PACs, while discriminating against challengers and individual citizens who wish to participate. "233 The author is not opposed to reform, but is specific about the
Id. at 213-214.
^Andrew J. Cowin, A Conservative Agenda for Comprehensive Campaign Reform, Heritage Found. Rep., Jan. 22, 1990, at 112.
types of reforms acceptable to a conservative, Republican audience. The Conference Board, a business membership organization, published a report on proposed changes in the Federal Election Campaign Act segregated by political party. According to this report, Democrats would implement voluntary spending limits based on population, while Republicans would not support any limits; Democrats would keep contribution limits in place, but Republicans would cut out-of-state contributions and exempt parties and party committees from ceiling limits; and party "soft money would be both disclosed and limited by the Democrats while Republicans would support disclosure but not implement limits."234 Republicans, who are traditionally supported by individual donors,235 support reforms that allow greater support of political parties which includes the use of "soft money," while Democrats, funded by labor unions and corporate PACs, do not have as the same ability to solicit individual gifts, particularly using direct mail solicitations.236
Montana is an excellent example where campaign finance reforms appear to reflect the Republican version of reform, as described on page 71 in Table 3-4. Montana offers strict individual and PAC limits, but has recently increased the contribution amounts for political parties. In reality, individuals are then able to support the party, which supports its candidates. This distinction in how campaigns are traditionally financed along party lines becomes important when assessing the intent of campaign finance. An underlying intent is, therefore, how
^Campaign Finance Reform 22-23 (Meredith Whiting, et al, eds., 1990). ^Herbert E. Alexander, Financing Pouncs, 71, (1984).
to continue to finance ones own campaign while limiting the opportunity for other candidates to finance their campaign? This intent is not offered in any of the theoretical models but is discussed in my findings. In particular, I quote both Robert Ward, a Connecticut Republican and House Minority Leader, and Tom Foley, the former U.S. Speaker of the House, a well-known Democrat, who confirmed this notion along party lines.237 It is important to note that insiders to the political process will view the types of reforms more closely than the public, so this distinction is more important for comparing state legislatures than public opinion, as discussed by Frank Sorauf.238
Failure to Implement Reform
Both Alabama and Colorado are states that have proposed, but not enacted, state campaign finance reforms in recent years. Each has some of the elements found in Minnesota, Connecticut, and Montana, but appear to be missing what might be seen as necessary prerequisites to implement some type of campaign finance legislation. Alabama has had a major incident of corruption with the conviction of their governor in 1993, but it lacks the public participation in the debate that is found in states with more regulation. One intention of reform proposals in this state is to eliminate corruption, but the perception that corruption is preventing the state government from working effectively is not yet evident.
In Colorado, there have been several efforts by reformers to implement
^See supra notes 132 and 182, and accompanying text. ^Sorauf, supra note 228, at 213.
reforms through the legislature and as an initiative on a statewide ballot in 1994. To date, none of these efforts has been successful. While there is public interest and active citizens working on the issue, Colorado has not had any major incident of corruption, as found in Alabama. In fact, I quote legislators who feel Colorado is the only state without corruption in its campaign finance system.239
These two cases lead me to believe that a statewide public education campaign on the issue of campaign finance would be necessary in order to successfully implement campaign finance measures in these states. Determining the necessary issues and components that should be present and available to the public in order to successfully introduce state campaign finance reforms would be another excellent topic for future research.
In conclusion, I believe that while the intent of state campaign finance reform is, at face value, an effort to remove the influence of money from decisions of government, there appear to be several less obvious intents including public perception and the advantage obtained when campaign financing is distinguishable by political party. What I discovered in my research was the existence of several necessary elements in order to establish campaign finance reform. States appear to require a combination of politicians who see a need to change the finance system, for one of several reasons both honorable and politically strategic; a motivated public that is involved and interested in the outcome of the debate; and a media that supports public debate, and in some cases, like the St. Paul Pioneer Press, creates debate through its own
239See supra notes 216-219 and accompanying text.
Even if all of these elements exist, and reforms are enacted, it is clear that
the public, the politicians and the media continue to press for reforms in an effort
to improve the system even further. I would suggest, as David Strauss does, that
there is an underlying desire to use the threat of corruption, and this tactic is
effective in Minnesota and Connecticut. To reiterate Strauss,
Reformers who. .focus on corruption and ignore inequality are concerned with the features that may be inherent in the democratic process itself rather than in any system of campaign finance. The task of campaign finance reform is not so much to purify the democratic process as to try to save it from its own worst failings.241
Indeed, campaign finance reform may be a priority as it allows the citizenry to get to the heart of the democratic process. In fact, lowering contribution limits is designed to involve more citizens in that process, making this assertion all the more valid. It is my hope that this thesis provides a basis for future research on state campaign finance reforms in order to explore some of these themes in depth.
See supra note 121 and accompanying text. ^Strauss, supra note 132, at 1370.