Cover image for Financing the 2000 election
Financing the 2000 election
Magleby, David B.
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Brookings Institution Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
xvii, 274 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
A high-stakes election / David B. Magleby -- Spending in the 2000 elections / Candice J. Nelson -- The 2000 presidential nominations : the costs of innovation / John C. Green and Nathan S. Bigelow -- Financing the 2000 presidential general election / Anthony Corrado -- Financing the 2000 Congressional elections / Paul S. Herrnson and Kelly D. Patterson -- Throwing out the rule book : party financing of the 2000 elections / Diane Dwyre and Robin Kolodny -- Interest groups and financing the 2000 elections / Allan J. Ciglar -- Financing gubernatorial and state legislative elections / Anthony Gierzynski -- Financing judicial elections / Roy A. Schotland -- Lessons for reformers / Thomas E. Mann.
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JK1991 .F568 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Since the 1960 national election, the nonpartisan Citizens¡¯ Research Foundation (CRF) has published a series of Financing the Election volumes, compiling reliable data on the costs and trends of campaign finance. For the 2000 edition, CRF and the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy at Brigham Young University assembled leading political science scholars to analyze this historic election season where campaign finance was critically important. Candice J. Nelson of American University compares spending estimates in 2000 with previous election cycles, and discusses the implications of increased spending. John C. Green and Nathan S. Bigelow of the Roy Bliss Institute at the University of Akron look at the presidential nomination campaigns, while Anthony Corrado of Colby College explores the financing of the general election, including the unprecedented Florida recount battle. Paul S. Herrnson of the University of Maryland and Kelly D. Patterson of Brigham Young University review the close party balance in the House and Senate and its effect on the financing of congressional elections. Diana Dwyre of California State University-Chico and Robin Kolodny of Temple University put the role of political parties and their use of soft money in perspective. Alan J. Cigler of the University of Kansas investigates the ways interest groups attempt to influence elections. Anthony Gierzynski of the University of Vermont analyzes the impact of redistricting on gubernatorial and state legislative elections, while Roy A. Schotland of Georgetown University Law School examines the recent history and rising costs of judicial campaigns. Finally, Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution discusses lessons the 2000 elections should teach us about the realities of financing elections and the implications for reform that emerged from this remarkable election. In setting forth the contours of American political finance, Financing the 2000 Election provides a unique resource for students of elections, reformers, journalists, and interested citizens.

Author Notes

David B. Magleby is dean of the College of Family, Home, and Social Sciences, director of the Center for the Study of Elections and Democracy, and a distinguished professor of political science at Brigham Young University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Magleby and colleagues continue the work of Herbert Alexander who published volumes on campaign finance covering a span of more than three decades. The story they tell in chapters dedicated to the presidential, congressional, and state elections of 2000 is alarming. A record $4 billion was spent on campaigns for federal offices --led by George W. Bush, who followed the most expensive primary campaign ever with the most expensive general election campaign ever. Bush was the first successful candidate to eschew federal financing since the system was created. Indeed, a running theme of the book is the need for an overhaul of federal campaign finance rules, which various authors here label "increasingly irrelevant" and "wholly ineffective." The concern is not simply the amount of money being raised and spent by candidates but the increasingly obscure path much of the money follows on its way to influencing elections; that is, an unprecedented number of wealthy interests spent their own money influencing elections outside the control of the candidates involved. All indications suggest the public's wariness of a system out of control. The evidence is well presented in this important, thorough, and compelling volume. Recommended at all levels. D. Niven Florida Atlantic University



A High-Stakes Election A lot was at stake for a wide range of participants in the 2000 elections. Candidates, parties, interest groups, and individual donors saw 2000 as an unusually important year to invest in campaigns. The White House had no incumbent running, Republican control of the House and Senate was shaky, and many of the constraints on money in American politics had been lifted owing to a series of court and administrative rulings. Quite naturally, presidential elections, especially when no incumbent is running, foster intense competition between the parties and allied interest groups. That tendency was amplified in 2000 for the Republicans because of their visceral dislike for Bill Clinton and a strong desire to win back the White House after eight years of Democratic control. As George W. Bush said at a campaign event, "We're going to win the state of West Virginia and we're going to do so because this nation is sick and tired of the politics of personal destruction. This nation is looking for an administration that will appeal to our better angels, not our darker impulses." Republican elites felt that their party should not have lost the 1992 election to Clinton and that he stole GOP issues like welfare reform to win reelection in 1996. The Republican disregard for Clinton had an added edge, an anger over the dishonor they felt Clinton had brought to the office of president through his affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, and his efforts to conceal it. The protracted investigation, House impeachment, and Senate trial failed to remove Clinton from office and reinforced Republican outrage. For many, especially those who contribute money to the Republican Party, Clinton had besmirched the presidential office, and replacing him with a Republican was important. Among voters, the direct assault on Clinton stressing the impeachment and his character flaws flopped for House Republicans in their 1998 Operation Breakout. As a result, Republicans used more veiled references to Clinton in their campaign against Al Gore in 2000; among GOP elites, however, returning "dignity and honor" to the White House was a common phrase that helped unify the party and motivate financial support. The possibility of winning back the White House motivated Republicans and allied interest groups to find and rally around a winning candidate. George W. Bush exploited this unifying motive and asserted his leadership through strong, early fund-raising. And, like Clinton, he moved to co-opt issues usually identified with the other party: Social Security, health care, and education. As a lame duck president, Clinton still had a large impact on the 2000 election, especially by assisting his party with fund-raising. He was also actively involved in Hillary Clinton's successful U.S. Senate bid in New York. In his 1996 race against Bob Dole, Clinton's expanded use of party soft money for candidate definition purposes transformed how parties spend soft money, making it a powerful tool in candidate-specific promotions and attacks. Clinton's soft-money fund-raising involved giving favors to large donors, such as granting access to policy briefings in the White House, and for some, a night in the Lincoln Bedroom. Vice President Gore also was involved in questionable and possibly illegal fundraising, including a visit to a Buddhist temple where the Democratic National Committee raised $140,000. Footage of Vice President Gore's visit to the temple was used against him in a Republican National Committee ad attacking his veracity and was the "first political attack ad of the general presidential campaign." The stakes of the 2000 election were high in terms of controlling both houses of Congress. If Bush won the presidential election and the GOP held their majorities in both houses of Congress, the Republicans would achieve unified party control over Congress and the presidency for the first time in forty-six years. The possibility of a sweep excited Republicans and their interest group allies; it also motivated Democrats and allied groups like labor unions to contribute to Democrats. At the start of the 1999-2000 election cycle, the Republican House majority was razor thin, only a thirteen-seat majority, the narrowest majority in forty-five years. The Democrats came out of the 1998 election with high spirits because they had picked up a net gain of five seats in a midterm election, something neither party had done while controlling the White House since 1934. Recognizing how important money would be in 2000, they appointed Patrick Kennedy to head the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC). Minority Leader Dick Gephardt kept Democratic House retirements and departures by incumbents so they could run for other office to a minimum, creating few open-seat opportunities for Republicans. In contrast, Speaker J. Dennis Hastert had to defend twenty-four open seats. Hastert reportedly was not aware of the retirement of John Edward Porter (R-Ill.) until it was announced. Political pundits agreed that the House was up for grabs. Early on, the Republicans seemed more likely to hold their majority in the U.S. Senate. But that changed on July 18, 2000, with the death of Georgia Republican Senator Paul Coverdell, who was replaced by the popular former governor Zell Miller, a Democrat. A combination of vulnerable Republican incumbents like Spence Abraham (Mich.), John Ashcroft (Mo.), Rod Grams (Minn.), and Rick Santorum (Pa.), plus opportunities to gain open seats formerly held by Republicans in states like Florida and Nebraska, gave the Democrats real hope for a majority following the election. The Democrats enhanced their chances of multiple victories by recruiting strong candidates, including three who could finance their own races: John Corzine in New Jersey, Mark Dayton in Minnesota, and Maria Cantwell in Washington. To individuals and interest groups, the 2000 congressional elections provided a rare election in which either party could credibly argue that with resources, they could take or retain control of Congress. On many policy fronts this meant groups and individuals invested heavily in their preferred party, and even safe incumbents were called into fund-raising duty to help their party in this effort. The real possibility of either party controlling Congress, or even one chamber, was a frequent refrain in fundraising appeals from all four party congressional campaign committees. Because the 2000 elections fell on the eve of the decennial reapportionment and redistricting, parties and allied interest groups also looked ahead to 2002 and beyond by positioning themselves to secure a party advantage through redistricting. Both parties identified state legislature or gubernatorial races in which an investment would improve their political leverage for redistricting in 2001 and 2002. Examples of battleground states for this effort were Iowa, Illinois, Washington, Tennessee, and Missouri. This heightened competition even carried over into state judicial elections. States often have more than three times as many judges as legislators. With rare exceptions, judicial elections in the past were different than executive or legislative elections because of their largely invisible nature. This was true despite the large number of judicial elections on the typical general election ballot. This invisibility results in part because many judicial elections are nonpartisan affairs that often involve a vote to retain or not retain a sitting judge, rather than offer a choice between competing judicial candidates. But money is becoming increasingly important in state judicial elections. For example, Alabama spent the most on the state judicial elections, with $12.5 million spent on twelve candidates in 2000.12 As Roy Schotland discusses in chapter 9, interest groups, recognizing the importance of the judiciary in policymaking, are also investing in judicial elections, and campaign professionals, sensing a new market for their wares, are eager to put that money into campaign communications. Indeed, the tone and nature of many judicial election television commercials is strikingly similar to ads voters see in competitive candidate and ballot initiative contests. Thus, on all fronts, 2000 was a high-stakes election in terms of partisan and ideological control of government not only for the short run but potentially for the next decade. Individuals and groups who invest in politics understood this dynamic and gave money in extraordinary amounts. The Regulatory Environment for Money and Politics in 2000 The regulatory environment for campaign finance has gradually changed since the major reforms of the early 1970s. In 1971 Congress enacted the Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA), which was significantly modified following the Watergate scandal with amendments in 1974, 1976, and 1979. The act was also greatly altered by the 1976 landmark Buckley v. Valeo decision, which held parts of the FECA unconstitutional. In response to requests from both parties, the FECA was amended in 1979 to permit parties to spend money raised under FECA rules on party building activities like pins, bumper stickers, voter registration, and get-out-the-vote drives. Under the amended law, such party expenditures do not count against the party contribution or coordinated expenditure limits for any candidate. The Federal Election Commission in subsequent advisory opinions permitted parties at the state and federal levels to set up separate accounts for fund-raising (called nonfederal or "soft money") for party activities not expressly connected to candidates. The regulatory regime in place at the end of this decade of reform included three basic elements: disclosure, contribution limits, and expenditure limits (when linked to public financing). Disclosure The premise of disclosure is that the public has a right to know who is funding the candidates, parties, and interest groups involved in elections. Furthermore, if opposing candidates, parties, and the media can gain access to information about who is funding campaigns, voters can hold candidates accountable for how they fund their campaigns. The Supreme Court also noted the need to deter corruption and undue influence. Prior efforts at reform, like the Federal Corrupt Practices Act and the Publicity Act of 1910, had included some form of disclosure in their provisions. But these acts provided incomplete disclosure at best. Recommendations for reform of campaign finance from a presidential commission appointed by President John F. Kennedy were made more salient by the 1968 elections and by President Richard M. Nixon's veto of the Political Broadcasting Act of 1971. Finally, the Watergate scandal called attention to money-filled suitcases transferred to candidate campaigns and added momentum to campaign finance reform efforts. A fundamental element of the FECA is that money for election activities going to candidates, parties, and interest groups must be disclosed. Money flowing from any of these entities to another must also be disclosed. Candidates are obligated to fully disclose how they fund their campaigns, including full disclosure of how much of their own money they are giving or loaning their campaigns. The disclosure provisions in the FECA withstood constitutional challenge. As the authors in this book demonstrate, disclosure of who is advocating the election or defeat of candidates through noncandidate electioneering is far from complete. Individuals and groups can mask their identity through issue advocacy. Groups and individuals can also communicate with voters through the political parties by way of party soft money. A common element of recent reform legislation is enhanced disclosure, but not all legislation includes issue advocacy, and without greater disclosure of the true sources of issue advocacy, disclosure will remain limited. Contribution Limitations A centerpiece of the FECA is that money given to parties or candidates can be limited. This provision was deemed constitutional by the courts. The 1974 amendments to the FECA set aggregate contribution limits for individuals at $25,000 per year or $50,000 per two-year cycle; the amendments also specified that individuals can only give a candidate $1,000 for the primary election and $1,000 for the general election, or $2,000 per election cycle. The contribution limits for political action committees (PACs) were set at $5,000 for the primary and $5,000 for the general election, or $10,000 per routine election cycle. The amendment also limited direct-party contributions to candidates and any money spent in coordination with them. One purpose of contribution limitations is to limit the influence large donors exert on candidates and political parties. Contribution limitations, like disclosure, have been breached by issue advocacy and party soft money. Large donors have many means to influence elections and communicate with voters. Under the Buckley v. Valeo decision they could spend unlimited money independent of the candidate or parties. But that electioneering was fully disclosed and the source of the communication known. In the aftermath of issue advocacy by the candidates through party soft money in 1996 and issue advocacy by interest groups in that same year we have effectively removed contribution limits. Expenditure Limitations The Supreme Court held expenditure limitations on candidates to be constitutional as long as these limits were voluntary and tied to some form of public financing. Presidential elections are the only part of the FECA that include public funds. Every major party nominee since the FECA took effect has accepted federal funding in the general election, including outspoken critics of public financing like Ronald Reagan. Public funding in presidential primaries is partial and comes in the form of matching funds. When candidates accept matching funds, they must abide by aggregate and state-by-state spending limits, although the state-by-state limits have come to be loosely interpreted. These forms of regulation were meant to reduce the importance of large and undisclosed donors to candidates and political parties and elevate other forms of electoral competition. However, the FECA did not clearly differentiate campaign communications from other forms of speech. It fell to the Supreme Court to attempt to craft a "bright line" definition of electioneering or what it called express advocacy. In Buckley v. Valeo the Court defined "express advocacy" in terms of word choice. Ads that use words like "`vote for,' `elect,' `support,' `cast your ballot for,' `Smith for Congress,' `vote against,' `defeat,' or `reject'" constitute express advocacy. Continue... Excerpted from Financing The 2000 Election Copyright © 2002 by Brookings Institution Press Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Table of Contents

David B. MaglebyCandice J. NelsonJohn C. Green and Nathan S. BigelowAnthony CorradoPaul S. Herrnson and Kelly D. PattersonDiana Dwyre and Robin KolodnyAllan J. CiglerAnthony GierzynskiRoy A. SchotlandThomas E. Mann
Forewordp. ix
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
1 A High-Stakes Electionp. 1
2 Spending in the 2000 Electionsp. 22
3 The 2000 Presidential Nominations: The Costs of Innovationp. 49
4 Financing the 2000 Presidential General Electionp. 79
5 Financing the 2000 Congressional Electionsp. 106
6 Throwing Out the Rule Book: Party Financing of the 2000 Electionsp. 133
7 Interest Groups and Financing the 2000 Electionsp. 163
8 Financing Gubernatorial and State Legislative Electionsp. 188
9 Financing Judicial Electionsp. 213
10 Lessons for Reformersp. 238
Contributorsp. 259
Indexp. 261