Candidate Venture Capital

67 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2011 Last revised: 21 Dec 2011

See all articles by Thomas Donnelly

Thomas Donnelly

Princeton University - Princeton University

Date Written: September 29, 2011


Candidate venture capital contributions are large donations given to candidates near the beginning of campaigns in order to provide them with sufficient resources to test their ideas in the campaign marketplace. These contributions can take the form of either large private donations or public grants. Although election law scholars and political scientists disagree a great deal over the aggregate effects of money in politics (and the utility of various reform proposals), they generally agree that early money is particularly valuable to political newcomers — especially when challenging incumbents. While both campaign finance reformers and anti-reformers often pay lip service to the value of early campaign cash, both sides usually offer prescriptions that deal with campaign contributions in an undifferentiated manner. This Article offers a different approach, focusing exclusively on how our campaign finance system might be altered to promote the value of early campaign cash in its own right. Rather than seeking undifferentiated contribution limits (like the typical reformer) or the complete deregulation of private contributions (like the typical anti-reformer), this Article suggests that policymakers might instead tailor campaign finance regulations to reflect the changing value of campaign cash over the course of the typical election cycle. Central to such an approach is a campaign finance system that increases the overall flow of candidate venture capital. In the end, this Article is an attempt to place the element of time at the center of the debate over campaign finance.

Suggested Citation

Donnelly, Thomas, Candidate Venture Capital (September 29, 2011). University of Cincinnati Law Review, Forthcoming, Harvard Public Law Working Paper No. 11-30, Available at SSRN:

Thomas Donnelly (Contact Author)

Princeton University - Princeton University ( email )

United States

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