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Campaign Finance External Resources

March 1, 2022

Note: Many of the links below are for advocacy organizations. NCSL makes no endorsement of the organizations or their goals. This list is provided for informational purposes only.

Alliance for Justice (AFJ) is a national association of over 100 organizations, representing a broad array of groups committed to progressive values and the creation of an equitable, just, and free society. AFJ works to ensure that the federal judiciary advances core constitutional values, preserves human rights and unfettered access to the courts, and adheres to the even-handed administration of justice for all Americans. It is the leading expert on the legal framework for nonprofit advocacy efforts, providing definitive information, resources, and technical assistance that encourages organizations and their funding partners to fully exercise their right to be active participants in the democratic process. The site features:

  • In depth research reports on topics such as judicial selection, corporate court, Supreme Court, advocacy, and access to justice.
  • An up to date blog tracking the latest developments in the fight for a fair America
  • First Monday films: To help educate the public about social justice issues and expose students to careers in public interest advocacy. Short video highlights to support the feature films.
  • Audio analysis of key cases before the SCOTUS, and circuit courts of appeals, using audio excerpts from oral arguments

The American Civil Liberties Union works to defend and preserve the individual rights and liberties guaranteed by the Constitution and laws of the United States. The ACLU is nonprofit and nonpartisan, and does not receive any government funding.  The ACLU is a nationwide organization with a 50-state network of staffed affiliate offices filing cases in both state and federal courts and appear before the United States Supreme Court more than any other organization except the U.S. Department of Justice. Site features:

  • Speak Freely, a blog focusing on free speech and civil liberties.
  • Videos
  • Court Cases
  • Reports
  • News Features

The Brennan Center for Justice at the NYU School of Law unites thinkers and advocates in pursuit of a vision of inclusive and effective democracy. Their mission is to develop and implement an innovative, nonpartisan agenda of scholarship, public education, and legal action that promotes equality and human dignity, while safeguarding fundamental freedoms. The focus is on both state and federal campaign finance law. The site offers:

  • an index of litigation
  • analyses and op-eds
  • a collection of publications which may be downloaded for free

The Brookings Institution is an independent, nonpartisan organization devoted to research, analysis, education, and publication focused on public policy issues in the areas of economics, foreign policy, and governance. The focus is on federal campaign finance law. The site offers:

  • publications for sale
  • analysis of and links to court decisions
  • analysis and commentary on relevant issues

The Campaign Disclosure Project is designed to bring greater transparency and accountability to the role of money in state and federal campaigns. The project, which has not been updated since 2008, had three goals: (1) Classify and evaluate the campaign disclosure laws of the 50 states. (2) Design and promote a set of uniform standards and model laws for state reporting and disclosure practices, based upon the findings of the evaluation above. (3) Encourage the adoption of these standards by grading the states according to their disclosure laws and practices and by promoting the findings through publications, conferences and web sites. The site focuses exclusively on state law. The site offers:

  • links to state disclosure agencies
  • a collection of news stories about campaign disclosure
  • links to related studies and resources

The Campaign Finance Institute (CFI) is a specialized think tank committed to the idea that durable policy should be based on objective, fact-based research.  Its work therefore is geared both toward peer review and to serving the needs of the policy making community.  CFI's work includes analyses of campaign contribution sources in state and federal elections, with an emphasis on the role of small donors. The website includes a tool for each of the states as well as a searchable database of campaign finance research.  

The Campaign Legal Center is a non-profit organization created to act as the "people's voice" in administrative hearings and proceedings on campaign finance and media laws. The site focuses on federal law. The site offers:

  • an enormous volume of information about BCRA, the new federal campaign finance law, including the regulations associated with the law and many documents associated with the court challenge
  • links to other campaign finance reform court cases
  • analysis of congressional legislation on campaign finance reform
  • weekly reports on federal campaign finance reform
  • links to news articles
  • links to a set of key reference documents

The Cato Institute is a non-profit public policy research foundation that seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. The institute opposes attempts to limit campaign spending. The site focuses on federal campaign finance law, with some information on state law. The site offers:

  • research, analysis, and commentary on a wide array of campaign finance issues

The Center for Governmental Studies is a non-profit, non-partisan public charity which studies and helps implement innovative approaches to improving social problems and the processes of self-government. The site offers:

  • a collection of recent publications
  • links to other organizations

The Center for Responsive Politics is a non-partisan, non-profit research group that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy. The site focuses on federal campaigns. The site offers:

  • analysis of how current news issues relate to campaign finance (for example, the Enron scandal)
  • a summary of contribution limits under the new federal law
  • detailed state-by-state summaries of campaign fundraising by PACs, federal candidates and political parties in 2000 and 2002
  • summaries and profiles of campaign fundraising data for individual members of Congress, members of particular Congressional committees, Congressional races, and national political party committees
  • summaries and profiles of campaign fundraising data for the president and administration

The Commitee for Economic Development (CED): Money in Politics Project is a public policy research, analysis, and tracking project of the CED which is a nonprofit, nonpartisan, business-led public policy organization that delivers well-researched analysis and reasoned solutions to our nation’s most critical issues.

  • public policy position and analysis
  • polling results
  • news and blog posts on topics in campaign finance affecting all levels of the U.S. political system

Common Cause is a non-profit, non-partisan citizens' lobbying organization promoting open, honest and accountable government. The site focuses on both state and federal campaign finance law. The site offers:

  • analysis of court rulings
  • a database of soft money contributions to the national political parties
  • summaries of various provisions of state campaign finance laws, including disclosure, contribution limits and public financing
  • links to U.S. Supreme Court rulings
  • links to other advocacy organizations
  • links to all state chapters, whose sites often include detailed information about campaign finance reform in their state

Every Voice is a social welfare organization that advocates for a democracy that works for everyone by reducing the influence of money in politics. With a mission to combat the influence of money at the federal, state, and local levels, to ensure that not only the voices of everyday Americans are heard, but that the people of our country have control over their democracy. The site offers:

  • Solutions to fight back against big money influence
  • Every Voice Speaks podcasts (the only podcast devoted to money-in-politics) and the latest news
  • Money-in-politics issue reports
  • Policy and campaign updates and how you can get involved

The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency that administers and enforces the laws governing the financing of federal elections. Its duties are to disclose campaign finance information, to enforce the provisions of the law such as the limits and prohibitions on contributions, and to oversee the public funding of Presidential elections. The site includes information mainly on federal campaign finance law, with mostly outdated information on state law. The site offers:

  • campaign finance reports and data from federal campaigns
  • information and forms for filing campaign disclosure reports
  • a collection of legal documents, including the text of all federal laws governing the financing of campaigns, regulations, advisory opinions, and interpretations
  • a collection of publications, including various guides to the law, court case abstracts, a monthly newsletter, and brochures
  • a collection of charts offering detailed summaries of state campaign finance laws (the charts were published in 2000 and represent information from 1999)

The Institute for Free Speech (IFS) is a nonpartisan, nonprofit educational foundation with a mission to promote and defend citizens’ First Amendment political rights of speech, assembly, and petition. Through litigation, education, and research, the Institute opposes invasive donor disclosure requirements on non-primarily political groups, arbitrarily low contribution limits, tax-funded campaign schemes, and other restrictions on citizens’ and organizations’ ability to support the candidates and causes of their choice. The Institute is the nation’s largest organization dedicated solely to protecting First Amendment political rights. (Formerly called, Center for Competitive Politics). The site offers:

  • a compilation of the Center’s briefs in its many court cases and those brought by other plaintiffs
  • detailed legal analyses of state legislation on a range of campaign finance issues
  • original research on myriad campaign finance subjects
  • an extensive collection of academic research on a variety of campaign finance topics from an array of sources
  • a regularly-updated blog with commentary on topical campaign finance and political speech issues from a selection of authors

The Institute for Justice – A libertarian public interest law firm dedicated to advancing economic liberty, school choice, property rights, and free speech. IJ litigates to limit the size and scope of government power and to ensure that all Americans have the right to control their own destinies as free and responsible members of society. Site features:

  • Blog, case studies, amicus briefs, and strategic and policy research on various topics, including free speech and economic liberty

Issue One is a bipartisan nonprofit organization dedicated to reducing the influence of money in politics and putting everyday Americans back in control of our democracy. Generating a bigger, bolder movement for reform by recruiting new constituencies to the fight and elevating money in politics as the core civic issue of our time.

  • organization and administration of the Reformers Caucus; a group of members of Congress and Governors from both sides of the isle, committed to regaining the integrity of the U.S. democratic process from the influence of excessive money in our political system.
  • extensive news blogs covering many aspects of campaign finance in all levels of American politics. 
  • blueprints for Democracy an reference publication illustrating how reforms have been implemented across the country and best practices for legislators and advocates.

The James Madison Center for Free Speech was founded to protect the First Amendment right of all citizens to free political expression in our democratic Republic. Its purpose is to support litigation and public education activities in order to defend the rights of political expression and association by citizens and citizen groups as guaranteed by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution. The Madison Center is dedicated to offering legal assistance to citizens and citizens’ groups in order to challenge state and federal election laws and regulations that suppress their free speech and free association rights. Furthermore, the Madison Center is willing to defend citizens and citizens’ groups when these right are threatened by government enforcement actions. Finally, the Madison Center will provide nonpartisan analysis and testimony regarding proposed legislation. Site features:

  • A comprehensive list of cases in which the Madison Center has been involved.

The Justice at Stake Campaign is a former nationwide, nonpartisan partnership of more than thirty judicial, legal and citizen organizations. Their research sought to educate the public about the growing impact of money and politics on fair and impartial courts. Although Justice at Stake closed down in 2017, their research on the financing of state judicial campaigns is still available. The site includes:

  • information on state supreme court elections
  • a study of the role of money in judicial politics (based on the 2000 state supreme court elections)
  • a round-up of judicial campaign finance reform efforts in the states
  • polls of state judges and voters on the issue of judicial elections

OpenSecrets is a nonpartisan, independent and nonprofit organization. OpenSecrets is a research group that tracks money in U.S. politics and its impact on elections and public policy. It was created in 2021 by the merger of the Center for Responsive Politics and the National Institute on Money in Politics, and its mission is to track the flow of money in American politics and provide the data and analysis to strengthen democracy. Note: The National Institute on Money in Politics and the Center for Responsive Politics merged and became OpenSecrets.

  • a detailed database of campaign finance contribution data from many (but not all) states
  • summaries and analysis of trends in campaign contributions and role of contributions in influencing key issues in the news
  • state-by-state analysis of major campaign donors and recipients (all pre-2000)
  • summaries of state campaign finance laws (generally based on 1998 or previous law)

Pillar of Law Institute – Much like the Center for Competitive Politics, Pillar of Law is singularly focused on political speech issues. Its site features:

  • Blogs, articles, in-depth research, and litigation summaries and analysis pertaining to political speech, and privacy issues.
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