The Political Parties and Campaign Finance Reform

Briffault, Richard

Recent campaign finance innovations of the major political parties have blown large and widening holes in federal campaign finance regulation. The relationship between parties and candidates also challenges basic doctrinal categories of campaign finance law. The Constitution permits regulation of campaign finances to deal with the danger of corruption. But some judges and commentators have argued that the parties present danger of corruption. This Article finds that, although parties play a positive role in funding campaigns, certain party practices raise the specter corruption in the constitutional sense. Moreover, due to the close connection between parties and candidates, and the parties' role in linking private donors to key participants in the legislative process, party campaign practices may, constitutionally, be subject to greater regulation than comparable practices of nonparty political organizations. The Article presents specific proposals for dealing with the party activities that have undermined campaign finance law, and argues that such reforms would also bolster the positive the parties play in the political process.


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September 15, 2016