Campaign Financing in America

by Colin Robertson, Senior Strategic Advisor for McKenna, Long and Aldridge LLP  

“A republic if you can keep it” Benjamin Franklin famously told Mrs. Proust at the end of the Constitutional Convention of 1787 in Philadelphia.

The Republic has endured but some repair is necessary around money politics and within the Republican party to sustain public faith in the system.

Estimated to cost over six billion dollars, the 2012 campaign will go down as the most expensive US election to date. By contrast, the 2011 Canadian election cost $330 million.

With elections every two years, the average member of Congress must raise at least $5,000 a week in order to have a sufficient war-chest for their re-election. Campaign fundraising is a daily activity.

A 2010 Supreme Court decision, Citizens United, loosened campaign financing rules to give corporations commensurate status with individual citizens. Americans are nothing if not creative and the result, if you live in a swing state, is a constant stream of political advertising, most of it negative.