Last updated: September 16, 2010 - 8:36am
A Supreme Court decision this year dramatically altered the regulation of money in politics, and a recent vote by the Federal Election Commission could change one area of the law that the court left intact: rules governing disclosure of the sources of campaign money.
A key provision of the 2002 McCain-Feingold campaign finance law curbed so-called issue ads, which avoid spending restrictions by focusing on a candidate's position instead of the election - an often subtle distinction. The Supreme Court has whittled away at the statute, saying it infringes on free speech. But eight of the nine justices have expressed their support for the part of the law that requires disclosing sources of money for issue ads. Despite the court's enthusiasm, there has been less and less disclosure of donors in recent years. In the 2004 election, when the law went into effect, 71 percent of the disclosure forms for issue ads listed the sources of money. So far this year, only 15 percent of the disclosures have listed a source.
The drop is partly due to a change in the regulations in 2007 following the Supreme Court's decision in Wisconsin Right to Life v. FEC, which allowed corporate and union funding for issue ads. In writing its regulations after the court opinion, the commission said that only the donations made "for the purpose of furthering electioneering communications" must be disclosed.
- 'Super PACs' alter campaign
- Supreme Court Rips Up Campaign Finance Laws
- U.S. court seems split over broadcast political ads
- Democrats prepare legislation to counter ruling on campaign spending
- Supreme Court won't hear challenge on campaign disclosure
- The Influence Industry: Disclose Act could deter involvement in elections
- Corporate Donations and the SEC
- Despite court ruling, Congress can still limit campaign finance
- Money spoke against Disclose Act
- Republicans on FEC want firms to be able to raise money for candidates
- Justices to Review Campaign Finance Law Constraints
- The Disclose Act is a matter of campaign honesty
- Political Ad Disclosure for 2014 -- Why Not?
- The Press After Citizens United
- A Campaign Finance Ruling Turned to Labor’s Advantage