Party-Based Corruption and McCutcheon v. FEC
Michael S. Kang
Emory University School of Law
February 9, 2014
Northwestern Law Review Colloquy, Vol. 108, 2014, Forthcoming
Emory Legal Studies Research Paper No. 14-276
This Essay presents a group-level theory of quid pro quo corruption and re-thinks under those terms the aggregate contribution limit challenged in McCutcheon v. FEC. Traditionally, quid pro quo corruption is understood as arising between a contributor and an individual candidate, but this understanding of quid pro quo corruption as limited to individual candidates, each isolated from one another, makes little sense given the pervasiveness of political parties in national politics and campaign finance. The aggregate limit plausibly addresses the risk of quid pro quo corruption, not only between the traditional dyad of contributor and individual candidate, but between contributor and his or her political party. Understanding the aggregate limit through this theory as a structural check on party-based, group-level corruption better captures the corruption worry about a contributor donating almost $4 million per federal election cycle than the anti-circumvention claims that pervaded the McCutcheon case. Although the group-level corruption contemplated here is less the corruption of a party than a concern about party-based corruption, the larger point is that national politics is mediated pervasively by partisan linkages — interconnecting individual candidates and officeholders — and these linkages belie an assumption that corruption is conceivable only at the level of the individual candidate.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 17
Keywords: political parties, campaign finance, contribution limit, McCutcheon
JEL Classification: K1, K19Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: February 13, 2014 ; Last revised: March 20, 2014
© 2014 Social Science Electronic Publishing, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
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