Campaign Finance

The First Amendment guarantees every American the right to participate fully in the political process.

Learn more about the campaign finance system in America and how you can work to improve it.

Transparency And The First Amendment – How Disclosure Laws Advance the Constitution’s Promise of Self-Government
U.S. Constitution

Political transparency promotes First Amendment values by ensuring voters have the information necessary to make meaningful choices on Election Day.

Dodging Disclosure: How Super PACs Used Reporting Loopholes and Digital Disclaimer Gaps to Keep Voters in the Dark in the 2018 Midterms
A "dark" roll of hundred dollar bills

The 2018 election was the most expensive midterm election in history. Meanwhile, political spenders employed new tactics to evade disclosure laws and hide the true sources of money. 

Report: Buying Back Democracy – The Evolution of Public Financing
money in politics

A look at how public financing programs can reorient our elections by reducing opportunities for corruption, encouraging new and diverse candidates to seek public office, and broadening political participation among the public at large. 

Report: How Leadership PACs Became Politicians Preferred Ticket to Luxury Living

The CLC and Issue One joint report analyzes more than five years of leadership PAC data — nearly 200,000 records of discrete expenditures — obtained from the Federal Election Commission (FEC). The report found that, since 2013, politicians have spent millions of dollars from leadership PAC funds that may have been unlawful if the spending came from their own campaign accounts.

Report: Examining Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections

A CLC report detailing the vulnerabilities of American elections to foreign interference that were exposed in the 2016 presidential election. The report outlines solutions for addressing this most urgent issue, which would protect the integrity of our democracy for the upcoming 2018 elections and beyond.

Report: Closing the Digital Loopholes that Pave the Way for Foreign Interference in U.S. Elections
cell phone on map

A research study, produced by University of Wisconsin Professor Young Mie Kim, in conjunction with CLC and Issue One, is the first empirical research of political ads used on Facebook to influence the 2016 elections. The research supports the need for the Honest Ads Act.

Fact Sheet: Public Financing in Elections

A roadmap for understanding the many benefits of publicly financed elections.

Dark Money Issue Brief

Dark money continues to play a major and troubling role in U.S. elections thanks to a series of Supreme Court decisions and weak enforcement of campaign finance rules by the Federal Election Commission.

Restoring Integrity to America’s Elections Act: Bipartisan Legislation to Overhaul the FEC
Gavel resting on stack of money

A fact sheet on the Federal Election Commission and proposed bipartisan legislation to reform the FEC.

Seven Myths (and Realities) about Disclosure
Money out of briefcase

Opponents of the disclosure of political spending have been playing fast and loose with the truth. This FAQ, prepared by CLC for Issue One, sorts the myths from the facts when it comes to the laws and regulation of ‘dark money’ groups and their spending in federal elections.

Blueprints for Democracy: Actionable Reforms to Solve Our Governing Crisis

The Campaign Legal Center and Issue One jointly released a report which details specific solutions to reduce the power of money in politics and restore faith in public institutions. The report and accompanying website provide a comprehensive overview of how reforms have been implemented across the country and outlines best practices for legislators and advocates enacting change in their states and local communities. 

Report: "Testing the Waters" and the Big Lie: How Prospective Presidential Candidates Evade Candidate Contribution Limits While the FEC Looks the Other Way

With the 2014 midterm elections behind us, public attention has shifted to the 2016 presidential election. News stories appear daily about prospective 2016 presidential candidates’ repeated trips to Iowa and New Hampshire, extensive fundraising and campaign machine building. Yet none of the early frontrunners—former Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Scott Walker and more than a dozen other politicians—will even admit that they are “testing the waters” of a presidential campaign. Why is this? And how can it be? 

Report: “Double-Dipping Donors”
shaking hands

Analysis by the Campaign Legal Center, the Center for Responsive Politics and Democracy 21 focusing on the overlap between ‘maxed out’ donors and candidates-specific Super PACs.  The report documents that Super PACs supporting presidential candidates continue to take in six- and seven-figure contributions from individuals who also have given the legal maximum to the candidate's campaign committee.

CLC Chart: 501c Disclosure Chart Defining Types of Outside Groups

CLC chart comparing the rules covering different groups involved in campaigns.

The Campaign Finance Guide (2004)
Flag Money

Published in 2004, CLC's The Campaign Finance Guide provided a pre-Citzens United explanation for citizens, candidates, political organizations and the news media, including a brief overview of federal campaign finance laws in effect at that time.  The Guide summarized the rules governing the financing of federal political activities and described how the laws are enforced.