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Election 2022: Follow the Money

Party Symbols


Question of the Month

Which party do you favor in the elections this year?

Please answer the poll only once.

You're the One That I Want
Cannot decide, they are all lovely: 0 votes (0%)
Democrats: 11 votes (73.33%)
Independent candidates: 1 votes (6.67%)
Other party: 0 votes (0%)
Republicans: 1 votes (6.67%)
A pox on all their houses: 2 votes (13.33%)
Total Votes: 15

And the highest bidder is ......

Since the 2010 Supreme Court Citizens United decision, vast sums of money have flowed into elections at all levels of government. Once upon a time, the funds raised by a candidate provided a general barometer indicating support among their constituents. With the growth of ActBlue and WinRed, funds flow from all over the country into highly contested races. In other cases where one candidate is expected to win easily, money may still flow into the race if one candidate is controversial. This ends up being wasted money (except for advertisers!).

Campaign Finance 101

Campaign finance rules set by the Federal Election Commission restrict individual donations directly to a candidate to $2,900 during the primaries and $2,900 during the general election.

If you give to outside groups, however, they can raise virtually unlimited funds to spend on election activities. These groups are usually organized as Political Action Committees (PACs or Super PACs) and can raise money from individuals, corporations, labor unions, etc. PACs may promote a particular candidate, but they are not allowed to coordinate with the candidate or campaign. In reality, this restriction means little or nothing.

A third component is "dark money." These are funds given to nonprofit organizations that can receive unlimited donations from corporations, unions, or individuals. Occasionally, an organization is formed shortly before the election so the organization doesn't have to disclose finances or donors until after the election.

Here are a few sites worth checking out.

Cal-Access provides financial information supplied by state candidates, donors, lobbyists, and others. (Center for Responsive Politics) is a nonpartisan guide to money’s influence on U.S. elections and public policy.

Federal Election Commission
The FEC is an independent regulatory commission to oversee elections. Candidates and outside groups that raise and spend funds for election related activities must file reports with the FEC. These reports are available for public perusal. You can also search for contributions by individuals. The FEC also has some enforcement mechanisms but these are mostly ineffectual.