Campaign Finance Reform

The voices of American voters are being drowned out by special interest money. Millions of dollars are poured into campaigns each election, and the amount continues to climb. Instead of turning to their constituents, members of Congress look to wealthy individuals and businesses to fund their campaigns.

Public Citizen is working hard to change the current system of campaign finance so that members of Congress are responsible to their voters, not to their contributors. You'll find the latest analysis in the Watchdog Blog. Join the conversation!

We need to make sure that our campaign finance laws limit the influence of wealthy special interests, and we hope that you join us in this fight.

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  • What's Happening?

In addition to the public financing measures, we are seeing the usual onslaught of legislative attacks on BCRA, contribution limits and the ban on illegal “soft money” in federal elections. Also, many other aspects of campaign finance reform are being discussed by Congress and the Federal Election Commission (FEC).

Sham Issue Ads

In FEC v. Wisconsin Right to Life (WRTL), the Supreme Court struck a strong blow to the ban on corporate money paying for election advertising, ruling that an exemption must be made for “genuine issue ads.” Fortunately, instead of far exceeding the scope of the Court’s ruling and gutting the BCRA ban on corporate “soft money” being used to fund election advertising, the FEC’s ruling was much more reasonable. The new regulations still ban corporate “soft money” paying for electioneering communications near elections, but allow a broader exemption for “genuine issue ads.” Still, voters should be aware that far more sham issues ads paid for by corporate interests are likely to overwhelm the airwaves.

Our guide to limiting the influence of wealthy special interests through campaign finance reform. The best and most comprehensive reform is voluntary public funding of all federal elections, or Fair Elections. But there are other major intermediary reforms needed.

There is a widespread problem of potential government contractors attempting to “buy” lucrative government contracts through campaign donations known as “pay-to-play.” Public Citizen has advocated for state and federal legislation to curtail pay-to-play abuses.