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Campaign Finance Disclosure and Legislative Fundraising Behavior
Unformatted Document Text:  12 instituting electronic disclosure) made up nearly half (45%) of all legal changes. In addition, advertising restrictions that passed primarily involved requirements that funders list their sponsorship on political advertisements; as a result, the 14% of laws that imposed advertising restrictions could also be considered a form of disclosure. Contribution limits, although they have drawn more legal attention, impose no direct costs on government and made up the next largest group of legal changes (16%); we note some of these changes in contribution limits were increases in maximum contribution amounts. Another 10% of the legislation passed imposed new penalties for violations of campaign finance laws; while an additional 10% either changed the use or publication of ballots, changed voter registration rules, or committed to study campaign finance issues. The remaining legislation, representing what we defined as substantive changes, consisted of two bills passed by the Connecticut legislature to fund its public financing system, a bill passed in another state to fund a public financing system passed by initiative (later retracted), one state that banned campaign contributions by corporations, and one state that made providing payment for votes illegal. The history of changes in campaign finance law on the state level suggests that major shifts in campaign finance law are unlikely under normal circumstances. The two most substantial legal changes were the public financing bills that passed and took effect in Connecticut, which were a response to extensive political scandals where multiple elected and appointed officials throughout the state admitted to fraud, drug use, embezzlement, and other malfeasance, leading commentators to refer to the state as “Corrupticut” (Fahrenthold 2006). Major campaign finance reforms on the federal level and in other states have been triggered in similar ways; the passage of the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1974 was in part a response to Watergate scandals, while Arizona passed its clean elections program partially in response to the governor’s conviction for fraud. Overall, the most common legal changes are expansions of disclosure laws.

Authors: Apollonio, Dorie. and La Raja, Raymond.
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12
instituting electronic disclosure) made up nearly half (45%) of all legal changes. In addition,
advertising restrictions that passed primarily involved requirements that funders list their
sponsorship on political advertisements; as a result, the 14% of laws that imposed advertising
restrictions could also be considered a form of disclosure. Contribution limits, although they have
drawn more legal attention, impose no direct costs on government and made up the next largest
group of legal changes (16%); we note some of these changes in contribution limits were increases in
maximum contribution amounts. Another 10% of the legislation passed imposed new penalties for
violations of campaign finance laws; while an additional 10% either changed the use or publication
of ballots, changed voter registration rules, or committed to study campaign finance issues. The
remaining legislation, representing what we defined as substantive changes, consisted of two bills
passed by the Connecticut legislature to fund its public financing system, a bill passed in another
state to fund a public financing system passed by initiative (later retracted), one state that banned
campaign contributions by corporations, and one state that made providing payment for votes
illegal.
The history of changes in campaign finance law on the state level suggests that major shifts
in campaign finance law are unlikely under normal circumstances. The two most substantial legal
changes were the public financing bills that passed and took effect in Connecticut, which were a
response to extensive political scandals where multiple elected and appointed officials throughout
the state admitted to fraud, drug use, embezzlement, and other malfeasance, leading commentators
to refer to the state as “Corrupticut” (Fahrenthold 2006). Major campaign finance reforms on the
federal level and in other states have been triggered in similar ways; the passage of the Federal
Election Campaign Act of 1974 was in part a response to Watergate scandals, while Arizona passed
its clean elections program partially in response to the governor’s conviction for fraud. Overall, the
most common legal changes are expansions of disclosure laws.


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