Contributions are the most common way of supporting political campaigns. A contribution is anything of value that is given, lent, or advanced to influence a federal election. Candidates for office raise money to finance their campaigns and demonstrate the breadth of their support. Campaign finance laws that dictate who can contribute, how much they can contribute, and how those contributions should be reported vary at the state and federal levels. In general, campaigns can receive funds from individuals, political party committees, and political action committees (PACs).
Public funding for political campaigns is also available in some cases, such as through income tax deduction systems. The participation rate in the federal income tax deduction program for presidential campaigns has decreased over the past two decades. Campaign finance, also known as electoral funding or political donations, refers to money raised to promote candidates, political parties, or political initiatives and referendums. Candidates from minority parties and from new parties may be entitled to receive partial public funding for their general election campaigns. Although the scientific political literature indicates that most taxpayers donate to support parties or candidates with which they already agree, the general public opinion is that donors expect to receive favors from the government (such as the enactment or defeat of specific legislation), so some have come to equate campaign funding with political corruption and bribery. The main legal guide for political donations at the federal level is the Federal Election Campaigns Act, initially passed by Congress in 1971. This act regulates who can donate money to campaigns, how much they can donate, and how those donations should be reported.
It also outlines rules for public funding of campaigns.
Sources of Campaign FundsThe most common sources of campaign funds are contributions from individuals, political party committees, and PACs. Contributions from individuals are limited by law in terms of amount and source. Political party committees are allowed to make unlimited contributions to candidates for federal office. PACs are allowed to make limited contributions to candidates for federal office.
Public Funding of CampaignsPublic campaign finance is a less commonly used method of regulating money in elections.
This is partly due to the outcome of the United States Supreme Court ruling in the case of Buckley v. In this decision, the court overturned a provision in the Federal Election Act of 1971 that required public funding for presidential elections. In some cases, candidates may be eligible for partial public funding for their general election campaigns. For example, in the United States, campaigns must buy time for television advertising, while in other countries it is provided free of charge.
Under the presidential public funding program, eligible presidential candidates receive funding from the federal government to cover the additional costs of their political campaigns.