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American Bar Association Annual Developments: 2004-2005 Campaign Finance Law: The 2004 Election Cycle, Section 527 Organizations and Revisions in Regulations

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Publication Date: May 2008

Publisher(s): Campaign Legal Center

Author(s): Trevor Potter

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

Type: Report

Abstract:

The 2004 election cycle was the first election cycle under the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 (BCRA). The Act constitutes a significant change in federal campaign finance law in at least two respects: first, BCRA prohibits national political party committees, as well as federal candidates and officeholders, from soliciting, receiving or directing soft money (i.e., funds not in compliance with federal law contribution amount limitations, source prohibitions, and reporting requirements); and second, BCRA prohibits corporations, trade associations, and labor organizations from paying for "electioneering communication" (i.e., any broadcast, cable or satellite communication referring to a clearly identified federal candidate and targeted to the candidate's state or district, sixty days before a general election and thirty days before a primary election).

The law was challenged in court and after nearly 20 months of legal battles (and one month before the election year began), the U.S. Supreme Court upheld almost entirely the constitutionality of the Act in its landmark McConnell v. FEC decision.

This article will detail how the new law worked in the 2004 election cycle, and what enforcement issues the Federal Elections Commission has before it, as well as summarizing other related litigation filed and decided in 2004-2005.