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Campaign Finance Reform

             With the recent Presidential race, the issue of campaign finance reform has once again been brought to the forefront of political debate. The issue has been addressed on many occasions, but not until recent Presidential elections the have the laws designed to prevent corruption been so flagrantly abused. "Politicians and their benefactors are forever finding holes in an already loophole-laden campaign finance system that, at one time, aimed to curb the impact of big money and assure public disclosure of those trying to influence elections" (Foerstel). Hard money contributions and expenditures must be reported to the Federal Election Commission while soft money donations, as they have become called, are contributions that not only require no disclosure, but also have no ceiling. These moneys from rich individuals and corporations go to the parties, not directly to the candidates. Eventually, though, these donations find themselves in the hands of the candidates. "Soft dollars have become a backdoor source of money in the Presidential race that is easy to raise, hard to trace and makes a mockery of laws designed to prevent corporate influence peddling in Washington" (Wayne). Although soft money undermines campaign finance, bipartisan legislation that would prevent political parties from handling soft money is unsurprisingly denied. .
             In recent decades the amount of money spent by candidates for office has reached staggering levels, yet it continues to increase dramatically. Since 1976, campaign expenses for congressional candidates have more than doubled in real dollars. There are many negative consequences of these developments. First, the need to raise ever-increasing quantities from private sources forces elected officials to spend less time on governmental work or direct contact with their constituents. Second, sources of substantial campaign contributions create the image of undue influence on elected officials in comparison to average voters and small donors.

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