October 11, 2000, was typical of most days in the final frantic weeks before the November elections. The New York Times reported in its “Campaign Briefing” that Congressman Clay Shaw was attacking his opponent Elaine Bloom on prescription drugs, that Ralph Nader had given a harsh speech the previous day on vehicle safety standards, and that, of the four candidates in the previous week's presidential and vice presidential debates, Joe Lieberman had used the “brainiest language.”1 The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported on that day that Bush was campaigning in Tennessee and winning there in the latest poll and that Gore's Southern strategy was based on upsetting Bush in Florida.2
And on this very normal day, deep into the 2000 election, candidates, parties, and interest groups raised and spent campaign funds. The Walt Disney Corporation's Political Action Committee (PAC) in Washington, D.C., for example, made seven candidate contributions of $1,000 each, six to incumbent House Democrats and one to an incumbent Republican Congressman. The money used to pay for these contributions was raised in small amounts by Disney's PAC, and the PAC abided to an upper limit in the total amount given to each candidate for that election cycle. In other words, the PAC used “hard money.” All told, almost 300 PACs contributed $1,966,344 in hard money that day.