Campaign Finance: The Battle Between Small Donors and Big Business

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

(Flickr user Public Citizen/flickr)

It has been illegal for corporations to donate directly to a political campaign since 1907, when Teddy Roosevelt pushed for that era’s big campaign finance overhaul. And even in the last forty years we’ve seen one new version of this reform attempted after another, as politicians have found ways to circumvent the old laws.

The question is always how much individuals and groups should be able to financially influence an election. But in 2008 we saw a massive influx of individual donations thanks to the internet. Then in 2009, Citizens United v. FEC opened the doors for big corporations to influence campaigns. So now in 2010 which means more influence, small donations or big corporations?

We want to explore the influence of the big corporate influence, like that of the Koch brothers and their corporate connections, and the potential for a massive amount of small donations. Richard Briffault, law professor at Columbia, who specializes in campaign finance talks about the long history between the push and pull of these two influences.


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