Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law

Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law

Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law

Campaigns, Congress, and Courts: The Making of Federal Campaign Finance Law

Synopsis

The First Laws From Teapot Dome to Watergate Money and Speech: The Debate Over Contribution and Spending Limits Disclosure, Enforcement, and the FEC Public Financing Unions, Corporations, and the Rise of PACs

Excerpt

This book began with my interest in a Supreme Court case, First National Bank of Boston v. Bellotti, which is mentioned only briefly in these pages. That case, and later ones on the subject of corporate political spending, led me to look into the enactment of the first federal campaign finance law, the 1907 prohibition on corporation political contributions. Wondering how we had moved from that prohibition to the Bellotti decision, I searched for a history of campaign finance regulation only to find that none existed. Moreover, the most commonly cited reference for the few summaries of that history I had encountered was one my limited research had already revealed as inadequate and misleading: Justice Felix Frankfurter's long digression in U.S. v. uaw (1957) (which actually depends heavily on the Justice Department's 1947 brief in U.S. v. cio). I then began to reconstruct that history, still intending to use it only as a context for examining changing perceptions of the political role of corporations. But this task eventually became so compelling in its own right that it became my main project, and has resulted in this book.

I wish to thank the people who assisted me in my research: Kent Cooper, Patricia Klein, Lucinda Munger, and Michelle Broussard, who patiently showed me how to get what I needed in the fec public records room, Eugene Nabors and the rest of the staff at the Library of Congress' law library, fec librarians Leta Holley and Ken Nero, Sharon Snyder and Fred Eiland in the fec press office, and Martha Alito at Congressional Quarterly. Thanks are also due to Herb Alexander, Ann Bedlington, Thomas E. Harris, Mike Malbin, Dick Pious, John Murphy, Ted Burrows, and Pat Adamski, who read portions of this book in manuscript. I did not take all of their suggestions, and they cannot be held responsible for errors of fact or interpretation. Thanks also to Dorothy Thomas for typing, and to Jean Walen for typing and for keeping me in line stylistically.

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