Should Campaign Donors Be Identified?

7 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2001

See all articles by Ian Ayres

Ian Ayres

Yale University - Yale Law School; Yale University - Yale School of Management


In the campaign finance debate, the only proposed measure that enjoys broad support is a requirement that all candidates disclose their contributors' identities. However, such disclosure would probably do little to deter quid pro quo corruption; instances of donation-induced "influence" (i.e., "face time") that could be proven under such a regime are legal, and voters have taken little interest in them historically, while vote-buying and other illegal actions would not be proven by the disclosures.

A better approach may be a regime of contributor anonymity in which donors must funnel their contributions to campaigns through blind trusts. Such a regime would deprive the candidate of a vital piece of knowledge that enables corruption: the knowledge that a supposed donor actually fulfilled his promise to contribute a large amount of money. What is more, such a regime would be less restrictive on donors' free speech rights and their "right to spend."

Suggested Citation

Ayres, Ian, Should Campaign Donors Be Identified?. Regulation, Vol. 24, No. 2, Summer 2001. Available at SSRN: or

Ian Ayres (Contact Author)

Yale University - Yale Law School ( email )

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Yale University - Yale School of Management

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