A Better Hope for Campaign Finance Reform

Edward J. McCaffery.

The American political system, decades into the twenty-first century, seems badly broken. Money lies everywhere at the root of its worst evils. By almost any reasonable account, there is too much money in American politics. The 2016 presidential and congressional election cycle saw an astonishing $6.5 billion in campaign contributions. Looking at individual donors, Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate from Nevada, gave $82.5 million along with his wife Miriam; the hedge fund manager and environmentalist Tom Steyer topped all donors with $90 million. Things did not stop there; money-in-politics things never seem to stop anywhere. Adelson donated at least $100 million in the 2018 midterm elections, while Steyer has pledged to spend $100 million on his own personal presidential campaign in 2020. Topping them all, Michael Bloomberg, the billionaire former Mayor of New York City, was a late entrant to the Democratic primary, vowing to spend out of his estimated $58 billion personal fortune “whatever it takes to defeat Donald Trump.” Before his roughly one hundred days as a candidate were done, Bloomberg had spent a staggering $900 million on the quest.

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