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Campaign Finance

Prior to the late 19th century, there were no laws governing campaign financing. Candidates were free to raise and spend any amounts of money from any source. However, over the last 100 years, state and federal regulation of campaign spending and contributions has proliferated. While limited in its effectiveness by the creative talents of political consultants and campaign managers, and checked in scope by the courts on 1st Amendment grounds, and at that only irregularly, these regulations now play a major role in shaping American politics, and campaign finance litigation has become an important campaign strategy.

The earliest campaign finance laws, which banned corporate contributions, were passed in the plains states in the wake of the 1896 presidential election, when corporate support helped fuel William McKinley's ...

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