An Aggregated Threat: Campaign Contribution Bundling and the Future of Reform
35 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2011 Last revised: 30 Jul 2012
Date Written: October 19, 2011
As Citizens United fades into the background and another election cycle approaches, efforts to limit the influence of inside power brokers over our politicians may seem hopeless. Yet while the tie between money and politics has been strengthened, all is not lost. This article highlights that under a proper understanding of the role of campaign finance reform — serving the purposes of our broader electoral tradition — the current regulatory system has strengthened our democracy in valuable ways and need not be entirely scrapped to make further strides possible. However, a largely ignored threat to the existing equilibrium and limit to any additional regulatory adjustments is in the offing, the phenomenon of “bundling” campaign contributions for delivery to a candidate. This Article exposes the threat posed by the practice of bundling, detailing its evolution, emergence, and likely consequences if left unchecked. The Article suggests that a simple reclassification of bundled donations as a form of independent expenditure, combined with additional tweaks of the regulatory environment, can stop the bundling phenomenon from evolving into a full-blown democratic disaster. Such simple adjustments are called for in both policy and logic, allowing the campaign process to serve, not impair, our democratic tradition.
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