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date: 18 May 2021

Abstract and Keywords

Money in some form has always been needed to finance politics, even in the eighteenth century, before there were any political parties or election campaigns in the modern sense. The ways of raising and spending that money have changed many times since then, as have opinions about how it should be raised and spent. As long as that money was raised and spent inside the parties, and as long as it came from politicians themselves and from rank-and-file party members, regulation of campaign funds was minimal. That began to change toward the end of the nineteenth century, when political money began to come from rich donors outside the parties. Government regulation began when opinions about how campaign funds should be raised and spent became legitimate questions of public policy. This chapter reviews how campaign finance practices and the laws regulating them have changed over the course of American history.

Keywords: campaign finance, U.S. elections, democracy, First Amendment, money in elections

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