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Out-of-State Money in the Congressional Elections of 1992, 1994, and 1996: Trends and Policy Issues

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Publication Date: September 1997

Publisher(s): Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service

Series: 97-894

Topic: Politics (Campaigns, lobbying, and pressure groups)


The sources of money raised in congressional elections have been central to the continuing debate over campaign finance reform. As concerns have been raised over candidate reliance on money from interest groups, many have looked for ways to bolster the role of individual citizens in funding campaigns. In particular, some have sought a greater role for residents of candidates' home states or districts, viewing out-of-state money as either inherently linked to special interests, or as weakening the ties between elected officials and constituents. Our ability to accurately assess the extent of out-ofstate money in campaigns is limited by federal disclosure requirements and the inherent problems in ascribing the origin of donations from political action committees (PACs). In examining out-of-state money, we are thus confined to data on donations of over $200 from individuals. Available data from the last three congressional elections show that such out-of-state contributions constituted 17% of 1996 Senate receipts, up from 14% in 1992. House out-of-state receipts rose from 6% to 7% in the same period. This report provides relevant data, explains what they tell us and cannot tell us, and places the figures in the larger context of overall receipts patterns.