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Campaign Reform Legislation (McCain/Feingold)

How did the campaign reform legislation (McCain/Feingold) along with the recent legislation capping private donations impact the way interests organizations and institutional elites transact influence in Washington? How does campaign finance reform correlate to Madison's cure for his concerns regarding factionalism?

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Please see response attached, which is also presented below.

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Interesting questions! Let's take a closer look through discussion and example, in the order that they are presented.

1. How did the campaign reform legislation (McCain/Feingold) along with the recent legislation capping private donations impact the way interests organizations and institutional elites transact influence in Washington?

It is important to understand the difference between Clean Elections and the traditional meaning of Campaign Reform.

For example, Clean Elections (also called Clean Money or Voter-Owned Elections) is a system of government financing of political campaigns (a form of campaign finance reform). It is currently (2006) only being voted and implemented on the state level in the United States. Some form of Clean Elections legislation has been adopted, mostly through ballot initiatives, in Maine, Arizona, North Carolina, New Mexico, Vermont, and Massachusetts (though in the latter two it has been weakened or repealed). Clean Elections was passed by the Connecticut state legislature and signed by the Governor in December of 2005. Two municipalities in 2005, Albuquerque, New Mexico, and Portland, Oregon have also passed Clean Elections for municipal elections. A clean elections ballot initiative was defeated in California in 2006 by almost a 3-1 margin. For example, under a Clean Elections system, candidates hoping to receive public financing must collect a certain number of small "qualifying contributions" (often as little as $5) from registered voters. In return, they are paid a flat sum by the government to run their campaign, and agree not to raise money from private sources. Clean Elections candidates who are outspent by privately-funded opponents may receive additional public matching funds. Because the system is voluntary, it appears not to run afoul of the United States Supreme Court's Buckley v. Valeo decision, which struck down mandatory spending limits as an unconstitutional restriction on free speech. Comprehensive Clean Elections systems have been in effect in Arizona and Maine for several years. Not surprisingly, most candidates take the subsidies rather than compete under the resulting handicap of raising voluntary contributions. In Maine, an overwhelming majority (3/4) of state legislators take the government money. In Arizona, the same is true of a majority of the state house, as well as the current Governor (Janet Napolitano). In 2005 Connecticut also passed a Clean Elections bill.

For example, Clean Elections has received some significant support and media attention at the national level. Senators John McCain and Russ Feingold are supporters. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Elections. As mentioned above, Clean Elections can be considered a type of Campaign Finance Reform, though the common understanding of Campaign Finance Reform is different from Clean Elections. The Campaign Finance Reform includes capping private donations impact the way interests organizations and institutional elites transact influence in Washington in various ways which are evident below in two major ways (bolded):

· Campaign Finance Reform laws are restrictive, placing campaign donation caps on the donors. In this way, it impact the way interests organizations and institutional elites transact influence in Washington through placing restrictions on their campaigning, which limits the potential influence in Washington.

· In contrast, Clean Elections laws supplement restrictions by providing qualified candidates a fixed amount of government funding with which to run their campaigns. To receive public funds, "Clean Candidates" must forgo all fund raising and accept no private or personal funds. Candidates who choose not to participate typically operate under significant restrictions on fund raising.

· If Campaign Finance Reform laws limit the amount an individual contributor can have on a politician if caps are set too high, they may have a minimal perceptual effect on campaigns.

· In contrast, Clean Elections or Clean Money allows for traditional fundraising candidates, subject to severe restrictions, but in addition provides funding for Clean Candidates. Further, Clean Money candidates who are outspent normally receive matching funds up to a cap to remain competitive, thus in effect assuring that a candidate who refuses public money cannot gain a substantial financial advantage. Clean Elections or Clean Money candidates are required to meet a certain qualification criterion, such as collecting a predetermined amount of signatures along with a small contribution (generally around $5) before the candidate can receive public support. Generally these qualifying contributions must be given by constituents.

· Campaign Finance Reform, if caps are low enough, can help spread out the donor pool, but does not address the issue of disproportionate warchests or independent expenditures (IEs) which often come in the form of attack ads. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Elections)

Effectiveness...

Studies by various ideological advocacy groups have found that Campaign finance Reform are effective or largely in accordance with the position the sponsoring organization has taken on the question. The most important independent study of clean elections is one undertaken by the nonpartisan General Accounting Office pursuant to a provision in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (also known as "McCain-Feingold"). The study, of Clean Elections programs in Arizona and Maine, found mixed results for Clean Elections, and ultimately concluded that more experience was required before any final judgments could be made on the effectiveness of the system. ([1]) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Elections)

2. How does campaign finance reform correlate to Madison's cure for his concerns regarding factionalism?

Factionalism n. existence of factions is defined as the existence of or conflict between groups within a larger group (http://encarta.msn.com/dictionary_1861610199/factionalism.html).

Madison argues that factionalism, or fighting between groups, can be combated through the address of the pathology of democracy (e.g., the acceptance of the diverse political views, and so on), through the science of political science. In a sense, ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains how the campaign reform legislation (McCain/Feingold) along with the recent legislation capping private donations impacts the way interests organizations and institutional elites transact influence in Washington. It also discusses how campaign finance reform sto Madison's cure for his concerns regarding factionalism.

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