The term soft money was used in the United States during the 1990s and early 2000s to refer to contributions to political parties that were given with the intention that they be used for “party building” purposes. These contributions have been prohibited since 2002, although it is common (but not technically correct) today to refer to contributions to nonparty organizations such as 501(c)(4) nonprofit social welfare organizations or independent expenditure-only political action committees (also known as super PACs) as soft money or as “the new soft money.” While other democratic nations vary in the extent to which contributions to parties are regulated, the term is generally used only in the United States and is a function of the distinction in U.S. law between candidate and ...

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