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Campaign Finance Disclosure and Legislative Fundraising Behavior
Unformatted Document Text:  3 hearings or off the floor (Grenzke 1989; Hall and Wayman 1990; Hojnacki and Kimball 1998; Wright 1985). All of these activities are much more difficult to observe than votes. However, although there is widespread ideological and partisan disagreement about whether there is a problem with the existing system of campaign finance, and if so what regulations might resolve these concerns, nearly everyone (with the possible exception of the United States Senate, which continues to resist electronic filing (Pierce 2007)) supports increased disclosure of campaign contributions. In addition, to date most disclosure laws have been consistent with the Supreme Court’s protection of political spending as speech (McConnell v. FEC 2003). Despite the public support for disclosure, increasing the scope of information disclosed about political contributions and spending has been difficult. A great deal of political spending remains unreported, including information about many lobbying expenditures, the amounts and distribution of outside spending by interest groups, and until recently, the extent to which interest groups bundle individual contributions. Researchers have noted that Americans typically oppose most existing ways of providing money to candidates and support almost any restrictions on campaign finance (Persily and Lammie 2004), including proposals that have been judged unconstitutional, like imposing expenditure limits and banning campaign contributions. These beliefs are seen as a specific example of generalized distrust in others, rather than feelings unique to the political system, although the political system is viewed as serving special interests (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002). In addition, despite popular distaste regarding the way campaigns are funded, campaign finance is typically viewed as an issue of low importance (Hamilton 2007). The combination of popular disinterest in campaign finance issues and the expectation that the general public is relatively unsophisticated in its understanding of campaign finance laws has limited direct research on what citizens find least and most offensive, and whether some regulations might be more effective than others at reducing the perception of

Authors: Apollonio, Dorie. and La Raja, Raymond.
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hearings or off the floor (Grenzke 1989; Hall and Wayman 1990; Hojnacki and Kimball 1998;
Wright 1985). All of these activities are much more difficult to observe than votes.
However, although there is widespread ideological and partisan disagreement about whether
there is a problem with the existing system of campaign finance, and if so what regulations might
resolve these concerns, nearly everyone (with the possible exception of the United States Senate,
which continues to resist electronic filing (Pierce 2007)) supports increased disclosure of campaign
contributions. In addition, to date most disclosure laws have been consistent with the Supreme
Court’s protection of political spending as speech (McConnell v. FEC 2003). Despite the public
support for disclosure, increasing the scope of information disclosed about political contributions
and spending has been difficult. A great deal of political spending remains unreported, including
information about many lobbying expenditures, the amounts and distribution of outside spending by
interest groups, and until recently, the extent to which interest groups bundle individual
contributions.
Researchers have noted that Americans typically oppose most existing ways of providing
money to candidates and support almost any restrictions on campaign finance (Persily and Lammie
2004), including proposals that have been judged unconstitutional, like imposing expenditure limits
and banning campaign contributions. These beliefs are seen as a specific example of generalized
distrust in others, rather than feelings unique to the political system, although the political system is
viewed as serving special interests (Hibbing and Theiss-Morse 2002). In addition, despite popular
distaste regarding the way campaigns are funded, campaign finance is typically viewed as an issue of
low importance (Hamilton 2007). The combination of popular disinterest in campaign finance issues
and the expectation that the general public is relatively unsophisticated in its understanding of
campaign finance laws has limited direct research on what citizens find least and most offensive, and
whether some regulations might be more effective than others at reducing the perception of


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