What are Campaign Finance Laws?
Campaign finance laws limit the amount of money individuals can give to a political candidate, party, or political action committee (PAC). These laws are meant to restrict the amount of money given because corporations and wealthy individuals can use their wealth to influence legislation of elected officials. On November 6, 2002, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) went into effect and created sweeping changes in campaign finance laws. It substantially limited the amount of money that can be given to political candidates and parties.
How Much Money Can I Give?
Today, the BCRA has provided substantial limits on the donation of money to political candidates. These limits include:
- An individual can give in increments of $2000 to an aggregate total of $95,000 per election cycle
- $25,000 to a national political party
- $5,000 to each PAC
- $10,000 a year to a state or local party
- $100 in cash to any political committee
How is the BCRA Different?
The BCRA limited the amount of money that could be given to political parties. After the BCRA, wealthy corporations and donors could only give up to $25,000 per national political party. However, individual donations directly to candidates increased from $1000 to $2000. In essence, the new law increases the ability of individuals to give money but decreases the influence of corporations. Before the BCRA, national political parties garnered more than $400 million dollars in soft money donations from corporations during the 2002 elections. However, the BCRA substantially limits that amount.
What are Penalties for Violating the BCRA?
The federal election commission investigates and manages campaign finance laws. A violation of federal law can bring severe fines and jail time. Therefore, it is extremely important to be aware of all relevant laws and regulations.
Should I Consult an Attorney?
An experienced attorney can help to provide guidance on how to give money to political candidates. The area of campaign finance laws is vast and difficult. Therefore, before deciding to give money to a political candidate makes sure you are aware of the limits by the new federal law.
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