Choices and Changes: Interest Groups in the Electoral Process

By Michael M. Franz | Go to book overview

5 Understanding Soft Money

On May 24, 2000 the Democratic Party held a fund-raiser at the MCI Center in Washington, D.C., dubbed by organizer Terry McAuliffe as a “down-home blue jeans and barbecue bash.” DNC National Chairman Joe Andrew kicked off the event by declaring, “We don't care about the size of your wallet, just the size of your heart,” and DNC General Chairman Ed Rendell proclaimed, “When we win this election in November, we are committed to getting rid of soft money. And four years from now, when we have a similar event—the top ticket is going to cost $100, and we're going to hold it in RFK Stadium.” Ironically, the Democrats raised more than $26 million that night, with nearly 50 percent of those funds raised from a handful of individual, union, and corporate soft money donors.1

In the previous chapter, I examined the patterns of hard money donated by political action committees to candidates for federal office. In the mid-1990s, however, most campaign finance reform advocates lost interest in hard money and instead focused their ire on “soft money,” those unregulated funds raised through the parties' nonfederal accounts (and at big fund-raisers like the Democrats' blue jeans bash). Congressman Marty Meehan (D-Mass.) and Senator John McCain (R-AZ) argued in 2001, for example, that “the current soft money system is a cancer on our democracy.”2 They asserted that parties were

-95-

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Choices and Changes: Interest Groups in the Electoral Process
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • 1: The Puzzle of Interest Group Electioneering 1
  • 2: Election Law and Electoral Politics Between Feca and Bcra 15
  • 3: A Theory of Emergent and Changing Interest Group Tactics 51
  • 4: Putting Pacs in (Political) Context(S) 75
  • 5: Understanding Soft Money 95
  • 6: Following 527s and Watching Issue Advocacy 118
  • 7: Tracking the Regulatory Context 145
  • 8: Conclusion 172
  • Appendix: Pac Ideology Measure 189
  • Notes 193
  • Bibliography 207
  • Index 217
  • Political Science and Public Policy/American Studies 229
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