Loopholes, Tricks and End Runs: Evasions of Campaign Finance laws, and a Model Law to Block Them


Publication Date: December 2009

Publisher: Center for Governmental Studies

Author(s): Molly Milligan

Research Area: Politics

Keywords: loopholes; campaign finance; model law

Type: Report


Campaign finance reforms have significantly reduced the potentially negative influences of money on the electoral and governmental processes. Nonetheless, many elected officials and candidates have found lucrative ways to circumvent contribution limits, flout the laws that are in place, and often raise stunning amounts of money in ways not covered by campaign finance laws. Special interests continue to give generously to non-campaign entities to gain access to legislators.

The Center for Governmental Studies (CGS) has examined the growing number of loopholes, tricks and end runs that politicians use to evade the campaign finance laws and actively pursue large payments from special interests and moneyed donors, including:

* Candidate Controlled Ballot Measure Committees
* Legal Defense Funds
* Inaugural / Swearing-in Committees
* Conventions and Conferences
* Leadership PACs
* Political Parties
* Offi ce Holder Accounts
* Administrative Accounts
* Charities
* Reimbursed Travel
* Personal Use of Campaign Funds

All these vehicles for non-campaign-related fundraising permit the fundraising engines of elected officials and candidates to race along despite state laws that limit contributions and require disclosure of money in politics.