Campaign Finance

Campaign Finance

house of money


image of a 100 billStates commonly place limits on contributions to candidates from various sources, and also on contributions to political action committees (PACs) and political parties. Just four states place no limits on contributions at all. Another seven states have minimal contribution limits.




image of a financial formDisclosure is the most basic form of campaign finance regulation. All states require some level of disclosure from candidates, committees, and political parties of the amount and source of contributions and expenditures. The states vary in disclosure requirements and reporting frequency.




image of money25 states have programs that provide public funds for use in election campaigns; these may: provide funds directly to individual candidates or to political parties, or provide tax incentive to citizens who make political contributions.





database NCSL maintains a 2014 database of legislation relating to campaign finance.  It can be searched by year, state, type of legislation and status.  With this database, users can see action in other states. An archived database from previous years dating back to 1999 is also available.




A successful election campaign depends on communication, and communication costs money. However, it is believed by some that money has the potential to corrupt a candidate, to drive him or her to serve their own interests or the interests of their campaign donors rather than the public good. For instance, there is a belief that an unusually large financial contribution could influence the voting behavior of an elected official. Campaign finance laws are intended to reduce the potential for corruption, or even the appearance of corruption.

There are three main avenues for regulating campaign finance. Few states rely on just one; most utilize a combination of two or three. These three primary methods are disclosure, contribution limits, public financing.  Also, see Life After Citizens United.



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