Contributions and Corruption: Restoring Aggregate Limits in the States

Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America 328-343 (Timothy K. Kuhner and Eugene D. Mazo eds., Cambridge University Press, 2018)

Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2016-52

16 Pages Posted: 13 Sep 2016 Last revised: 5 Jun 2019

See all articles by Michael D. Gilbert

Michael D. Gilbert

University of Virginia School of Law

Date Written: September 1, 2016

Abstract

This chapter, written for an edited volume on campaign finance, examines aggregate contribution limits and their potential to combat corruption. Base limits cap the amount one can contribute to individual candidates, while aggregate limits cap the amount one can give to all candidates. As I explain, base limits should tend to affect the magnitude of corrupt acts while aggregate limits should tend to affect their frequency. The Supreme Court failed to appreciate that second point in McCutcheon v. FEC, concluding that aggregate limits serve no anti-corruption purpose and violate the Constitution. Many observers interpreted McCutcheon to foreclose all aggregate limits, and some states stopped enforcing their aggregate limits as a result, but that reaction is unjustified. McCutcheon does not reach beyond federal law, and aggregate limits remain viable at sub-national levels of government. They offer an under-theorized but important mechanism for reducing corruption.

Keywords: campaign finance, campaign contributions, aggregate limits, McCutcheon, corruption, election lawcomma separated]

Suggested Citation

Gilbert, Michael, Contributions and Corruption: Restoring Aggregate Limits in the States (September 1, 2016). Democracy by the People: Reforming Campaign Finance in America 328-343 (Timothy K. Kuhner and Eugene D. Mazo eds., Cambridge University Press, 2018), Virginia Public Law and Legal Theory Research Paper No. 2016-52, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2837927

Michael Gilbert (Contact Author)

University of Virginia School of Law ( email )

580 Massie Road
Charlottesville, VA 22903
United States

Do you have a job opening that you would like to promote on SSRN?

Paper statistics

Downloads
44
Abstract Views
414
PlumX Metrics