Has campaign reform worked?

Anonymous asked this question on 4/16/2000:

It seems to me that trying to curb the corrupting influence of money during campaigning fluctuates alot,first with seasons of an attitude of almost apathy or indifference to cycles of reformation.Whatevent or events causes this? How do you view the cycles that bring about a major change and how does this change the campaigns?
What do you see as our status the last ten years or so? Are we mainly indifferent, or has there been any major reform?

JesseGordon gave this response on 4/21/2000:

There have been some major changes in recent decades regarding campaign finance:

1) "Soft money" means donations made to the political party organization for general support of party activities. "Soft money" cannot be used for a particular campaign, but of course candidates find ways to raise it and use it extensively within the rules.

2) "Issues ads" are another recent development in campaign finance. here, "independent" organizations make political advertisements and pay for broadcasting them. It's allowed as long as the ads don't endorse voting for a particular candidate (for example, an ad can point out problems with Bush's record in Texas, as long as the ad DOESN'T say "Vote for Gore"). The ads also can't be "coordinated" with the campaigns (for example, Bush supporters can bash Gore on TV, as long as they don't discuss or show the ads in advance to Bush's campaign staff).

3) Individual donation limits are a pretty recent invention also. The current limits are something like $1000 per person donating to each candidate.

Regarding "cycles," I think people only get interested in this issue when a corruption scandal surfaces, or when a candidate pushes the issue (like McCain and Bradley did).

Regarding whether we've made "progress" on reforms, the answer is "who knows?" The rules I describe above were INTENDED to remove some corruption. But now the "reformers" are calling for banning "soft money" and "issue ads" altogether, with the intention of removing corruption.

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