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A handful of wealthy donors dominate electoral giving and spending in the United States. We need limits on campaign finance, transparency, and effective enforcement of these rules — along with public financing.

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Why It Matters

Today, thanks Supreme Court decisions like Citizens United, big money domin­ates U.S. polit­ical campaigns to a degree not seen in decades. Super PACs allow billion­aires to pour unlim­ited amounts into campaigns, drown­ing out the voices of ordin­ary Amer­ic­ans. Dark money groups mask the iden­tit­ies of their donors, prevent­ing voters from know­ing who’s trying to influ­ence them. And races for a congres­sional seat regu­larly attract tens of millions in spend­ing. It’s no wonder that most people believe the super-wealthy have much more influ­ence than the rest of us. 

Though Citizens United opened the floodgates to unlim­ited inde­pend­ent spend­ing, the Supreme Court contin­ues to uphold limits on direct contri­bu­tions. Bren­nan Center for Justice advoc­ates for tighter limits on contri­bu­tions candid­ates can directly receive.

We also call for stricter rules to ensure unlim­ited polit­ical spend­ing by non-candid­ates really is inde­pend­ent of candid­ates. And we advoc­ate for greater trans­par­ency of who pays for polit­ical ads, because voters deserve to know. To meet these stand­ards, elec­tions at every level require fair and effect­ive enforce­ment, begin­ning with a better-func­tion­ing Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion. 


Fully Disclose All Polit­ical Spend­ing

Congress should pass the DISCLOSE Act, and states should require all groups engaged in polit­ical spend­ing in state races to disclose their donors.

Close Fundrais­ing Loop­holes for Candid­ates and Office­hold­ers

Congress and the states should curb coordin­ated activ­ity between candid­ates and super PACs. They should also stop the flow of dark money to nonprofit groups that are controlled by and promote elec­ted offi­cials.

Fix the Federal Elec­tion Commis­sion 

Congress should over­haul our nation’s dysfunc­tional campaign finance regu­lator so that it can effect­ively enforce the law.

Read more in our Demo­cracy solu­tions report.

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