Campaign finance

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Campaign finance refers to the means by which money is raised for election campaigns. As campaigns have many expenditures, ranging from the cost of travel for the candidate and others to the purchasing of air time for TV advertisements, candidates often spend a great deal of time and effort raising money to finance their cause.


  • Groups like ours are potentially very dangerous to the political process. We could be a menace, yes. Ten independent expenditure groups, for example, could amass this great amount of money and defeat the point of accountability in politics. We could say whatever we want about an opponent of a Senator Smith and the senator wouldn't have to say anything. A group like ours could lie through its teeth and the candidate it helps stays clean.
    • John Terry Dolan, in The Washington Post (August 10, 1980), p. F1. Dolan, chairman of the National Conservative Political Action Committee (NCPAC), later claimed this remark was taken out of context, since he was speaking of a hypothetical situation.
  • I am deeply touched—not as deeply touched as you have been coming to this dinner, but nevertheless it is a sentimental occasion.
    • John F. Kennedy, remarks at a fund-raising dinner, Salt Lake City, Utah (September 23, 1960); reported in Freedom of Communications, final report of the Committee on Commerce, United States Senate (1961), part 1, p. 355; Senate Rept. 87–994.
  • When citizens are relatively equal, politics has tended to be fairly democratic. When a few individuals hold enormous amounts of wealth, democracy suffers. The reason for this pattern is simple. Through campaign contributions, lobbying, influence over public discourse, and other means, wealth can be translated into political power. When wealth is highly concentrated—that is, when a few individuals have enormous amounts of money—political power tends to be highly concentrated, too. The wealthy few tend to rule. Average citizens lose political power. Democracy declines.
  • The need for collecting large campaign funds would vanish if Congress provided an appropriation for the proper and legitimate expenses of each of the great national parties, an appropriation ample enough to meet the necessity for thorough organization and machinery, which requires a large expenditure of money. Then the stipulation should be made that no party receiving campaign funds from the Treasury should accept more than a fixed amount from any individual subscriber or donor; and the necessary publicity for receipts and expenditures could without difficulty be provided.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, annual message to Congress (December 3, 1907); reported in State Papers as Governor and President, 1899–1909 (vol. 17 of The Works of Theodore Roosevelt, national ed., 1926), p. 461.
  • Each nation has its own pet sins to which it is merciful, and also sins which it treats as most abhorrent. In America, we are peculiarly sensitive about big money contributions for which the donors expect any reward. In England, where in some ways the standard is higher than here, such contributions are accepted as a matter of course, nay, as one of the methods by which wealthy men obtain peerages. It would be well-neigh an impossibility for a man to secure a seat in the United States Senate by mere campaign contributions, in the way that seats in the British House of Lords have often been secured without any scandal being caused thereby.
    • Theodore Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt: An Autobiography (1913, Charles Schribner's Sons; 1941, Edith K. Carow Roosevelt; 1985, Da Capo Press, Inc.)

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