This archival web page was frozen in its current form for historical record in January, 2004, and is provided courtesy of the Downsize DC Foundation.

Articles & essays

Every year politicians pass hundreds of bills containing thousands of pages of fine print. You can't possibly keep track of it all, but every bit of it affects your life, and you're responsible for complying with all of it.

Worse still, you're never in more danger than when politicians pass laws governing their own elections. If you lose the ability to effectively choose your own representatives, then it's only a matter of time before you lose other things that affect your life even more directly.

Can you depend on the media to keep you informed? Maybe, sometimes, if only you can find the time to keep up with the news. But, like most people, you're probably busy working to pay your taxes. So let help you, at least on the issue of your right to vote and participate in the political process. Our staff reads everything that comes out on these issues, and we'll post the most interesting items here. Check back from time to time to see what's new!

A Simple Explanation for Why Campaign Expenditures are Increasing: The Government is Getting Bigger

In this research study, Dr. John Lott displays the evidence that most of the large recent increases in campaign spending for Federal and state offices can be explained by higher government spending. This result holds for both Federal and state legislative campaigns and across many different specifications. As Paul Plaintiff Michael Cloud says, "It's not the abuse of power, but the power to abuse," that's the problem. By focusing on the symptoms and not the root causes of ever higher campaign expenditures, this paper argues that the current public policy debate risks changing the form that payments are made rather than actually restricting the level of competition. (Adobe Acrobat required, n.d.)
Do Donations Alter Votes?

Economist Dr. John Lott writes, "Proponents of campaign-finance reform have managed to claim the mantle of dislodging the entrenched political establishment. But, in fact, the reverse is true: Allowing large contributions is instead the key to letting new faces into politics." Lott also points out why the so-called "appearance of corruption" touted by reformers isn't real. (08/14/2003)
BCRA Proponents Need to Learn How to Limit Their Own Corruption

Much of the campaign finance debate and actual law hinges on so-called "corruption" or the "appearance of corruption." Buckley v. Valeo rests solidly on this premise -- the Warren Court's determination that there was a "compelling state interest" in limiting said corruption so that donation limits, filing and reporting requirements, disclosure rules, and the Federal Election Commission became fixtures in federal politics. One of the most prominent organizations in this effort (a foundation that is the namesake of one of the justices who ruled in Buckley and an intervening defendant in the BCRA case) is guilty of cooking-the-books in an attempt to mislead Congress, the public, and the courts about the effects of BCRA. It turns out that the Brennan Center knows a lot about corruption because they practice it. (05/26/2003)
Campaign Finance Reform Price Tag -- FEC Asks Congress For Additional $5.4 Million
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The Federal Election Commission petitioned Congress to boost its staffing by 31 people. The agency cited an increased workload due to the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act and a critical need for lawyers in its general counsel's office, analysts in its reports analysis division, four new executive assistants serving individual FEC commissioners, and other resources. To implement these requests, the FEC requested nearly $5.4 million in extra funding over the next two fiscal years. (04/24/2002)
Two More Groups File Suit Against Campaign Finance Reform Law

The Christian Coalition and a group of teen-agers have separately filed lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of restrictions on campaign spending signed into law by President Bush. (04/05/2002)
President's Statement on Campaign Finance Reform Law

A day which will live in infamy. President Bush signs Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 into law. Since he defeated McCain so soundly in the primaries and has such open reservations about the bill, one has to wonder why he felt he didn't veto it. This statement attempts to answer that question and shed light on the President's legendary "strategory." (03/27/2002)
Stranglehold on Speech
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Robert Samuelson writes, "Free speech does not exist unless it can include speech that you -- and perhaps most people -- despise." But given the rhetoric of leading campaign finance reformers, that's exactly the speech they seek to shut down. Samuelson quotes 'em accurately and lays bare the real motives of these do-gooders. (03/27/2002)
Reason Is No Guarantee: The Case of Campaign Finance Reform

Campaign Finance Reform is a nice dream, but it is impossible for this issue to pass the real world test of "reason." Tibor Machan of Cato explains. (03/26/2002)
Campaign finance 'reform' sends political money underground

This op-ed from the Modesto Bee explores the logical dilemma of the soft money ban. "...while the bill puts a dam across the soft money river, it doesn't change the underlying political geography. The candidates downstream still need lots of private money to communicate with voters. And citizens and interest groups still have enormous stakes in the outcome. Now the money will flow around and under the dam." (03/25/2002)
The courts don't own the Constitution

Amazingly, David Limbaugh (brother of radio talk show host Rush) takes his Republican president to task both for signing campaign finance into law and for his pathetic public statement on the matter. Limbaugh gives the president a lesson on the oath he took. Perhaps we should be looking to impeach Bush (our question, not David's of course). (03/23/2002)
Incumbent Protection - the Dirty Little Secret of a Soft Money Ban

Last year, infamous political consultant Dick Morris pointed out how banning soft money works to the benefit of politicians. Because his "open letter" was written in an insider publication and insider language, it didn't get wide play outside of the beltway. Jim Babka of provides interpretation. (03/22/2002)
Campaign Finance and the Fifth Estate

In this humorous article, James Hirsen shows how politicians get around campaign finance laws with a little creative financing. You've heard of the Fourth Estate, meet the Fifth Estate. (03/11/2002)
Politics 2002: Year of the tycoon?

The Christian Science Monitor asks the question, "Is the year of the tycoon?" With campaign finance limits, are wealth and the lack of a political record to attack the ticket to success? (03/07/2002)
Corruption at the Washington Post?

George Will writes, "The New York Times and the Washington Post are guilty of corruption." You'll have to read the article to learn how (but here's a hint: it has to do with their hypocritical support of campaign speech restrictions -- at least for some people). (03/07/2002)
McCain to seek FEC overhaul
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McCain borrows a page from the FDR manual -- pack the court. But McCain's version is even scarier. He's suggesting an criminal justice organization, like the FBI, should enforce the laws. Can you imagine what comes next? Perhaps late night, no-knock raids, and campaign treasurers dragged off to Siberia. Couldn't happen here in the good 'ol USA -- could it? (03/06/2002)
For Real Reform, Repeal All the Campaign Laws

An article by libertarian Harry Browne who writes, "...incumbents have already figured out how to raise all the money they want under the new system. All it requires is to be in office and have favors to dispense." Browne also provides a solution for all our campaign finance worries. (02/28/2002)
Is manipulating the facts?

Is exaggerating or manipulating the facts about just how bad McCain-Feingold? Jim Babka, president of, responds -- turning the tables and demonstrating the real manipulators. Turns out the old Shakespearean line is true, "Me thinks the lady doth protest too much." (02/25/2002)
Politicians' Baloney

While the title may seem redundant, the article, by Jim Babka of, is quite useful. Babka gives five rules of thumb to understand the code behind the things politicians say and uses (alleged) campaign finance reform as the backdrop to illustrate this. (02/20/2002)
Free speech has lost its constituency on left

Once upon a time free speech was a left-wing liberal issue. But John Leo points out, those days are gone -- and campaign finance reform proves it. (02/18/2002)
Bad news ... Shays-Meehan rises again (free registration required)

Shays-Meehan scheduled to return, after a successful discharge petition signed by 218 House members. Debate scheduled for week of February 11th. (02/06/2002)
Turns out being a committee chair pays dividends
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An article by Sharon Theimer of the Washington AP provides this breaking news, "Democrats are benefiting from the switch of power which gave them control of the Senate." This interesting article is yet more evidence that incumbent committee chairman will have no trouble raising even larger sums of money from special interests, regardless of whatever soft-money ban is passed. (01/31/2002)
Enron's no reason for campaign finance reform

Just in case you need a second opinion, columnist Jonah Goldberg comes to the same conclusion as Marc Levin. (01/31/2002)
Enron's political contributions: Another bad investment

Marc Levin points out that nearly $600,000 of political investments in George W. Bush bought Ken Lay and Enron a deaf ear just when they needed it the most. If true, this case, albeit anecdotal, would stand the current campaign finance mantra into fiction -- "the Enron debacle illustrates that political contributions may be one of the worst investments a business can make." (01/14/2002)
Move in Congress would relax a new disclosure law (free registration required)

This New York Times piece by Alison Mitchell reports on a bill proposed by Congressman Bill Thomas of California. The law he proposes would no longer require reporting to the I.R.S. by state and local tax-exempt groups that engage only in local political activities and that report to states having disclosure rules "substantially similar" to those of the federal government. Mr. Thomas' bill would also eliminate the annual I.R.S. filing requirement for state and national groups that already report to the Federal Election Commission or to states. Of course the Times editorial staff blasted this proposal the next day. (12/18/2001)
War Exploits

John J. Miller and Ramesh Ponnuru expose campaign-finance fanaticism at The New York Times. Seems the New York Times believes the passage of McCain-Feingold/Shays-Meehan is the most important issue Congress can take up. (10/16/2001)
Liberty for citizens or only for politicians? president Jim Babka provides seven simple tools by which to judge any campaign finance legislation. This article is a thorough but highly readable FAQ on campaign finance. (08/29/2001)
Overgrowing the government

Joel Miller, the commentary editor for World Net Daily, believes campaign finance reform can never work because the jackpot of government largesse is too alluring. He writes, "Lobbyists exist because government has power and money for which to lobby. Campaign-finance reform won't change that. The power and money will still be in the hands of the politicos, and the hungry lobbyists will find ways to ... swerve around the obstacles placed before them. As long as government has soup, the orphans will clamor at the cauldron." If you think too much money is being spent on campaigns, then Miller has a much better solution -- "overgrow" the government. Overgrow? "The solution is not more politicking. It's sidestepping politics," says Miller. And he begins to sketch out just how to overgrow the government in this often witty article. (08/22/2001)
A Small Finance Victory That Could Mean Defeat (free registration required)

What happened to Shays-Meehan? In the words of David Broder, the House had a "procedural vote too technical for much of the public to understand that left leaders of both parties pointing accusatory fingers at each other." In our opinion, Adam Clymer, writing for the New York Times, gives the best explanation of what really happened to campaign finance reform in the House last Thursday (7/12/01). He also explains what Shays and Meehan will need to do to get their bill back in play. Can they do it? Probably, but you can form your own impression with the facts included in this article. (07/14/2001)
Hooray for Campaign Spending

On "OpinionJournal" from The Wall Street Journal editorial page, Pete Du Pont asks, "Money is the mother's milk of politics. What have McCain & Co. got against their mothers?" (07/11/01)
Democrat Defections Could Kill McCain-Feingold
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Republicans hold a vast tactical advantage if soft-money is limited; it's called direct mail. Some experts believe that the Democrats may have painted themselves into a corner with an outright soft-money ban. Democratic National Committee Chair Terry McAuliffe is a talented fundraiser but how long will it take for him to make up the hard-money, direct mail fundraising gap? And now that the McCain-Feingold bill has a very real chance to become law, will House Democrats, particularly those from the Congressional Black Caucus, defect from their party leaders and vote against the Shays-Meehan campaign finance reform bill? Is McCain-Feingold bad for Democrats? This article from Fox News answers these questions. (07/06/01)
Campaign Reform Is Unconstitutional, No Matter What McCain May Claim

Harry V. Jaffa (Author, Professor of Political Philosophy Emeritus Claremont McKenna College, and Claremont Graduate University Distinguished Fellow with the Claremont Institute) takes his readers on a historical tour that reminds us of James Madison views on special interests and Martin Van Buren's clever use of special interests. Sometimes things aren't always what they seem; just like John McCain's campaign finance bill. (07/01)
Prof. Smith Goes to Washington: Federal Election Commission member Bradley A. Smith takes on campaign finance laws

Bradley Smith, a former law professor and author of "Unfree Speech: The Folly of Campaign Finance Reform," tells Michael Lynch of Reason Magazine, "I have begun to question if there's any benefit from disclosure . . . The disclosure regulations are some of the most burdensome." Smith points out that disclosure rules really end up discouraging grassroots organizing and that the Supreme Court has consistently held that people do have a right to anonymous speech. Smith, never one to avoid controversy, is also quoted as saying, "I am disturbed to the extent to which filing a charge against a campaign or a person is just a political weapon." His use of the story of Mac Warren to illustrate this point, will leave you stunned by the depravity of campaign finance regulation. (07/01)
Black Democrats don't like McCain-Feingold

A surprising number of black officeholders are opposed to McCain-Feingold, according to this article in National Review Online. (06/22/01)
Political Debate Must Be Free and Unfettered

This opinion piece in the Atlanta Business Chronicle explains that the founders of our country knew that misinformation and even outright lies would be part of the political debate. However, they placed an unshakable faith in common people that, if afforded access to free, unfettered debate, they would be wise enough to sort the political wheat from the chaff, and typically make wise decisions. (05/18/01)
The Terrible Secret of Campaign Finance Reform

This Cato Institute commentary by John Samples, director of the Center for Representative Government, explains why the African-American political leadership is waking up to the dangers posed by McCain-Feingold's restrictions on political participation. Some members of the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) are worried that the bill will reduce voter registration and education. (05/08/01)
Prohibition is Back
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Robert Samuelson likens "campaign finance reform" to the efforts of Prohibitionists in the 1920's to rid society of a "cesspool of evil." (04/11/01)
Looking Out for Number One (both text and RealAudio)

Paul Jacob writes, "Senator McCain says of himself and others in Congress, 'We are all corrupt.' Why then should we have campaign rules written of, by, and for the corrupted?" (04/09/01)
Defeat Campaign Finance Reform
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This editorial in Deseret News asks why any type of information, even information broadcast in a negative "attack" ad, be considered illegal. The editors promote the marketplace of ideas, "where truth and error can grapple without restraint." (04/08/01)
Beware of "Reform"

Joseph Sobran argues that campaign finance reform is a sinister attack on the basic republican principle that citizens must be free to oppose, and replace, those who hold power over them. (04/07/01)
Just Trust the Voters
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The Des Moines Register editorial board endorses campaign deregulation and puts faith in the electorate to vote corrupt politicians out of office. (04/06/01)
Abdicating Responsibility
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Commentary in the Harvard Crimson suggests holding politicians accountable through the electoral process and leaving citizens, represented by "special interests," alone. (04/05/01)
Save Us from the Reformers

Charles Krauthammer examines the unintended consequences of the provisions of McCain-Feingold which handicaps the ability of those outside the political system to contribute to a political party that reflects their views. (04/02/01)
McCain's vision clouded
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Robert Novak observes that "it is hard to find anybody else who seriously believes tax lobbyists will be less effective or pork-dispensers forestalled because of McCain-Feingold." (04/02/01)
Stifling Free Speech
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Doug Bandow argues that soft money and political ads promote competitive elections. He redefines the "iron-triangle" (alliances between career legislators and Washington's permanent institutions of influence   bureaucrats, journalists, and lobbyists) as the real barrier to responsive government. (03/28/01)
Making the World Safer for Incumbents; The Consequences of McCain-Feingold-Cochran

John Samples, Director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute, disputes the assertion that soft money corrupts legislation or elections. (03/14/01)
Free Speech Includes "Soft Money"

George Will defines the conflict between the FEC's mission to regulate political discourse and President Bush's oath to defend the Constitution. (03/04/01)
Limits, Limits and More Limits: Why McCain Feingold is Wrong for America
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Laura Murphy, Director of the ACLU Washington National Office, argues that in our democracy, you shouldn't have to register with the government in order to criticize it. (03/01/01)
ALERT: Unintended Consequences of McCain-Feingold Bill Cause for Concern
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The Alliance for Justice (AFJ), while generally supporting the primary thrust of campaign finance reform, is "concerned" about the proposed restrictions on "electioneering communications." AFJ identifies nonprofit legislative lobbying, regulatory advocacy, public education and fundraising as legitimate activities prohibited by proposed legislation. (02/28/01)
Will Campaign Reform Actually Prevent Corruption?
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Steve Chapman argues that those who want to buy influence and those who want to sell it will always find a way. (02/15/01)
You Can't Put Dollar Limits on Free Speech

John Eastman, Director of the Claremont Institute, argues that campaign finance restrictions undermine free elections, and therefore the very legitimacy of government itself. (2000)
Campaign Reform or Free Speech?

Aimee Howd quotes Senator Mitch McConnell (R-KY). "The most well-financed special interest in America is the press, which engages in issue advocacy every day by spending large amounts of corporate soft money. They have a right to do so. [But] they have a blatant conflict of interest on this issue and would like to quiet voices for everyone else in our country who has First Amendment and other constitutional rights to express themselves either independently or by contributing to candidates." (12/10/99)
Enemies of the First Amendment

Attorney Bobby Burchfield predicts that efforts to ban soft money will not survive judicial scrutiny. (10/11/99)
1997--1998 PAC Study (.pdf file)
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An analysis of PAC contributions by The Leadership Institute demonstrates that incumbency motivates the giving decisions of business and association PACs. (09/99)
The First Amendment and Restrictions on Issue Advocacy
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Testimony by James Bopp, Jr. of the James Madison Center for Free Speech before the House Subcommittee on the Constitution. Mr. Bopp asserts that issue advocacy is constitutionally protected. (05/05/99)
The Political Economics of Campaign Finance

Jeffrey Milyo, Assistant Professor of Economics at Tufts University, cites recent empirical studies which indicate that interested money does not play an extremely influential role in federal elections. (Spring 1999)
What are Ballots For?

Richard Winger, Editor of Ballot Access News, asserts that the purpose of ballots is to facilitate the wishes of voters, not to control whom they vote for. (1999)
What's Wrong With Pending Legislation That Seeks to Regulate Issue Advocacy?

The American Civil Liberties Union's Campaign Finance Reform Fact Sheet exposes misguided and unconstitutional restrictions of free speech. (05/16/98)
Campaign Finance "Reform" Proposals: A First Amendment Analysis

University of Virginia Law School Professor Lillian BeVier argues that current proposals to regulate campaign finance practices cannot survive the kind of scrutiny that the First Amendment requires. (09/04/97)
Why Congress Can't Ban Soft Money

David Mason, a Senior Fellow at the Heritage Foundation, examines the constitutionality of soft money and issue advocacy restrictions. (07/21/97)
Campaign Finance "Reform": A View from Capitol Hill
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Senator Mitch McConnell challenges the rhetoric and objectives of campaign finance reformers. He argues that reform will cut citizens out of the democratic process.
How to Achieve Real Campaign Finance Reform

Edwin Locke suggests a government that can't sell "public interest" favors.

This archival web page was frozen in its current form for historical record in January, 2004, and is provided courtesy of the Downsize DC Foundation.