Writing Assignment 2: Literature Review
The Citizens United v. FEC ruling and the creation of Super PACs--independent committees with unlimited spending power--has greatly changed spending behavior in political campaigns (as evident by the 594% increase in independent expenditures from the 2008 to the 2012 election). Many scholars have analyzed the impact of these Super PACs on the possibility of political corruption or the appearance of such in political campaigns. There has only been one presidential election since political action committees have been given the ability to accept unlimited contributions, yet there has already been considerable debate among scholars concerning the relationship between Super PACs and political campaigns. Due to the short amount of time since Citizens United v. FEC ruling and the establishment of Super PACs, there is a relatively small amount of scholarly literature on their effects; however the predominant schools of thought on the issue can be divided into two positions: the theory that Super PACs do not coordinate with campaigns or overstep their bounds as independent committees, and the theory that there is a level of coordination between Super PACs and campaigns and that it poses a threat of political corruption. The latter position also discusses ways in which FEC framework can be altered to minimize the risk of corruption. These theories are important to keep in mind when assessing the role of Super PACs in the 2011-2012 election cycle as well as the upcoming presidential election, and can be used to determine whether or not further limits should be imposed on Super PACs to prevent the possibility of quid pro quo corruption.
The first school of thought claims t...
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...r candidates to legally attend Super PAC fundraising events, solicit contributions for Super PACs, send surrogates to meet with Super PACs, share consultants with Super PACs, and supply Super PACs with lists of rich friends and family members. Although Super PACs may not be coordinating spending behaviors with campaigns, the extent of the relationship between the two suggests a remodeling of the FEC definition of coordination which balances First Amendment rights with the prevention of quid pro quo corruption.
As we approach the 2016 presidential election--the second presidential election since the creation of Super PACs--it is important to assess whether or not further limitations should be imposed on Super PACs, as very little research has been done so far to analyze the possibility of political corruption occurring under the new changes in campaign finance law.
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