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United States of America

In law
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In practice
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In the United States, direct public funding is available only for presidential candidates, and only if they pledge to abide by spending caps and eschew the collection of other sources of funding. As such, during the 2012 elections, state funds were disbursed only to minor party candidates, as the major party candidates chose to raise and spend more money than they would have received by retaining their eligibility for public funding. No indirect funding or subsidized access to advertising exists. The use of non-financial state resources in campaigns is prohibited, but in at least a few cases, such resources were abused for electoral purposes during recent campaigns. Various restrictions on direct contributions are specified in law, but campaign spending remains unrestricted. This leads to hugely expensive elections in which parties and candidates rely heavily on private donations, many of which come from large individual donors and political action committees. The US system has rigorous reporting requirements. Both candidates and parties must, by law, report regularly on their finances. In practice, the reports filed with the Federal Elections Commission (FEC) include all direct contributions received. All filed reports are available online in machine readable formats, and are easily accessible to the public. Some third party actors are required to submit detailed financial reports to the FEC. Others, however, including are under no such obligations (see indicator #34 for a complete explanation). This means that, in practice, some information on the independent political activities of third party actors is available to the public, but much of their expenditures, and the donors who finance them, remain dark. The FEC is in charge of regulating political finance. Its members, in practice, are appointed on a partisan basis, and their independence is not guaranteed. The FEC carried out a number of audits after the 2012 elections, and imposed sanctions, some of which were complied with. Most sanctions, however, are relatively light, and are imposed well after the violation occurred, which diminishes their impact. To impose sanctions or initiate an investigation, the FEC needs a quorum of 4 of its 6 members. Three of the commissioners are Republicans and three are left-leaning. As such, they often gridlock, which means that a good deal of potential violations go without investigation. Serious concerns about the FEC's ability to meaningfully regulate political finance exist, and dark money appears to play an increasing role in American politics.

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    Direct and Indirect Public Funding

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      Direct Public Funding
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        MODERATE
        In law, there is direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        At the federal level, direct public funding is only available in relation to presidential elections and can be allocated to presidential primary candidates and presidential nominees of each major party, as well as candidates of minor parties and new parties. All public funding is optional and candidates may choose to opt out.

        Section 9006 (a) of the Internal Revenue Code establishes a Presidential Election Campaign Fund, where individuals with income tax liability voluntarily contribute US$3 each [Internal Revenue Code, § 6096]. The presidential candidates of the major parties shall be entitled to equal payments from this fund [Internal Revenue Code, § 9004 (a)(1)]. Minor party candidates and new party candidates may also become eligible for public funding for their election campaigns [Internal Revenue Code, § 9004 (a)(2) & (3)].

        With regards to presidential primary candidates, section 9037 of the Internal Revenue Code provides for a Presidential Primary Matching Payment Account from where candidates seeking nomination by a political party for election to the office of President can receive direct public funding to match contributions from individual donors, up to US$250 per individual [Internal Revenue Code, § 9034 (a)].

        According to section 9008 of the Internal Revenue Code, both major and minor parties’ national committees were also entitled to payments with respect to any presidential nominating convention. However, public funding of national nominating conventions was abolished by the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2014.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is direct public funding for both political parties and individual candidates to campaign. A 100 also applies where only one of the two actors can be elected and, therefore, only one is entitled to direct public funding.

        A MODERATE score is earned where per law only one of the two actors (either political parties or individual candidates) is allocated direct public funding to campaign, even though both can be elected.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as amended), Title 26 U.S.C. §9004(a), §9006(a), §9008, §9034(a), §9037, §6096. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        2. The Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2014, amending Title 26 U.S.C. §9008. Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/PLAW-113publ94/pdf/PLAW-113publ94.pdf

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Public Funding of Presidential Elections Brochure. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/pubfund.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

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        2
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        MODERATE
        In law, there is a transparent and equitable mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns.More about indicator

        Public financing provisions are applied differently to general election campaigns and to campaigns for a party’s nomination. In order to be eligible to receive direct public funding, the candidates of a major party in a presidential election must certify to the Federal Election Commission (FEC), under penalty of perjury, that their campaign expenses will not exceed the amount of the public funding and that they will not accept any private contributions except for those necessary to cover the legal and accounting costs incurred to ensure compliance with campaign finance rules [Internal Revenue Code, §9003(b)].

        For minor and new party candidates to be eligible they must certify to the FEC under penalty of perjury, that their campaign expenses will not exceed the amount of public funding to which major party candidates are entitled and that they will accept private contributions only to the extent that their campaign expenses exceed the amount of public funding they received [Internal Revenue Code, §9003(c)].

        In addition, candidates of major, minor or new parties running for presidential elections shall certify to the FEC, under penalty of perjury, that the expenditures from their own personal funds will not exceed the amount of US$50,000 [Internal Revenue Code, §9004(d)]. According to section 9003(a) of the Internal Revenue Code, they must also agree in writing to obtain and furnish to the FEC such evidence as it may request of the qualified campaign expenses they incurred, to keep and furnish to the FEC such records, books, and other information as it may request, and agree to an audit and examination by the FEC after the election.

        The mechanism to determine public funding for major party presidential candidates is based on the principle of equality, while the public funding for minor and new party candidates is calculated on the basis of the principle of proportionality. More specifically, the eligible candidates of each major party in a presidential election shall be entitled to equal payments in an amount which, in the aggregate, shall not exceed the expenditure limitations applicable to such candidates [Internal Revenue Code, §9004(a)(1)]. This spending limit was originally set in 1976 at $10 million plus a cost of living adjustment [Federal Election Campaign Act, §441a(b)(1)(B) and (c)]. For the 2012 presidential elections the total limit went up to $91.2 million. The amount of public funding to which minor party candidates are entitled is calculated on the basis of the ratio of the party's popular vote in the preceding presidential election to the average popular vote of the two major party candidates in that election [Internal Revenue Code, §9004(a)(2)]. Furthermore, new party candidates who received at least 5% of the total votes cast are entitled to an amount equal to the ratio of the new party candidate's popular vote in the current election to the average popular vote of the two major party candidates in that election [Internal Revenue Code, §9004(a)(3)].

        Regarding presidential primary election candidates, section 9033(b) of the Internal Revenue Code requires that in order to be eligible for public funding they must certify to the FEC that they seek nomination by a political party for election to the office of President. They are also required to certify that they have raised a threshold amount of US$100,000 by collecting US$5,000 in each of 20 states in amounts no greater than US$250 from any individual. Other requirements include agreeing to an overall spending limit of US$10 million plus a cost-of-living adjustment and US$50,000 from personal funds, abiding by spending limits in each state, using public funds only for qualified campaign-related expenses, keeping financial records and permitting an extensive campaign audit [Internal Revenue Code, §9033(a) and §9035(a)]. Funding for primaries is available for candidates who raise a relatively modest threshold amount of funds, and the funding is provided as a match to the first $250 of each individual contribution they raise, while the total amount of public funding to which a candidate is entitled cannot exceed 50% of the national spending limit for the primary campaign[Internal Revenue Code, §9034].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) direct public funding for political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where direct public funding for political party and individual candidates' electoral campaigns is allocated through a clearly defined calculation mechanism that is transparent and equitable, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as amended), Title 26 U.S.C. §9003, §9004, §9033, §9034, §9035. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Public Funding of Presidential Elections Brochure. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/pubfund.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        3. Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §441a(b)(1)(B) and (c). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014)

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        75
        In practice, to what extent is the mechanism to determine direct public funding for electoral campaigns transparent, equitable and consistently applied?More about indicator

        First of all, it is important to keep in mind that direct public funding at the federal level is only available for presidential candidates participating in primary and general elections, and there is no such funding available for legislative candidates or political parties. Major party candidates willing to receive public funding for general elections are not allowed to raise any private funds and must limit their campaign expenditure to the amount of public funding they receive plus a maximum of US$50,000 from their own personal funds (see Source 1). Although most primary and general candidates in previous years’ elections accepted public funding, these caps discouraged most major party candidates in 2012 from participating in the public funding program, given that the funds they raised from private donations were significantly higher than the amount of public funding available for the election (see Sources 5 and 8). More specifically, the totals raised in both the primary and general election cycles presidential candidates of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party from individual private contributions were approximately US$715,151 million and US$443,363 million respectively, while the available public grant and the expenditure limit for the 2012 presidential elections was $91.2 million (see Sources 1 and 7).

        In order to receive public funding for the 2012 presidential elections, minor and new party candidates were also limited to spend no more than US$91.2 million (US$20 million plus a cost-of-living adjustment) and they were only allowed to accept private contributions up to 20% of the national limit. In addition, minor party candidates are only eligible to receive public funding if they or their party received at least 5 percent of the total popular vote in the preceding presidential election (see Source 1). During the 2012 elections, only two minor party candidates requested public funding, namely Governor Gary Johnson and Judge James Gray, the nominees of the Libertarian Party for the offices of President and Vice President, respectively. However, the Federal Election Commission rejected their application, stating that they did not meet the requirements for pre-election payments of public funds “because neither the Libertarian Party nor these individual candidates received 5% or more of the vote in the previous (2008) presidential general election” (see Source 3).

        As for the public funding for primary elections, in order to be eligible candidates are required to raise a threshold amount of US$100,000 by collecting US$5,000 in each of 20 states in amounts no greater than US$250 from any individual. Eligible primary candidates are entitled to public funding equal to the amount of an individual’s total contribution, while the total amount of public funding to which a candidate is entitled cannot exceed 50% of the national spending limit for the primary campaign (see Source 1). Only three minor party candidates seeking nomination for the office of President in the 2012 elections requested and received presidential primary matching funds. In all three cases the Federal Election Commission applied consistently the eligibility criteria and calculation mechanism prescribed by law and published on its official website all the supporting documents and financial information that determined the total amount granted to each candidate (see Source 4). Thus, Buddy Roemer qualified for a total amount of US$351,961, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein was granted US$372,130 and the Libertarian Gary Johnson received US$632,017 (see Source 6). The 2012 presidential elections were the first since 1976 in which no major-party candidate signed up for public funding (see Sources 5 and 8).

        For the 2012 presidential elections, parties were entitled to public funding to finance their national presidential nominating conventions. Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, only the Republican and Democratic parties were eligible for 2012 convention grants. In compliance with the law, both major parties received an equal amount of US$18,248,300 each (see Source 2). Public funding of national nominating conventions was abolished by the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act of 2014 (see Source 1).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaigns allocations are always defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) electoral campaign allocations are usually defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are usually applied but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political campaign allocations are rarely or never defined through a clearly defined transparent and equitable calculation mechanism, or 2) the defined eligibility criteria are rarely applied.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Public Funding of Presidential Elections Brochure. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/pubfund.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Democratic and Republican Parties Certified for Convention Funding. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/fecrecord/december2011/conventionfunding2012.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Presidential Public Funding / General Election Correspondence. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/PPF2012GE_Correspondence.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Presidential Matching Fund Submissions. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/2012matching/2012matching.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        5. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Commission Certifies Federal Matching Funds for Gary Johnson. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/fecrecord/2013/february/johnsonjanuarycertification.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        7. Center for Responsive Politics, 2012 Presidential Race Summary. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/pres12/

        8. OSCE/ODIHR Limited Election Observation Mission Final Report on the 2012 General Elections in the United States of America, 13 February 2013. Available at: http://www.osce.org/odihr/elections/99573

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        75
        In practice, to what extent does the entity in charge of public funding make disbursement information publicly available?More about indicator

        Detailed information on public funding for presidential campaigns is made available at the Federal Election Commission’s official website within 48 hours after their receipt (see Sources 5 and 6). For the 2012 elections, the FEC announced that each of the major parties received US$18,248,300 from the U.S. Treasury for planning and conducting their respective 2012 presidential nominating conventions. More specifically, the Republican Party applied for public financing of its 2012 convention on 1 June and received the amount of US$17,689,800 on 1 July, while the Democratic Party applied on 6 September and received the same amount on 22 September. With later inflation adjustments, the total public funds paid to each major political party went up to US$18,248,300. Since no third-party candidate received 5% of the vote in the 2008 presidential election, only the Republican and Democratic parties were eligible for 2012 convention grants (see Sources 1 and 2).

        Only one campaign sought general election public funding during the 2012 elections, that of Governor Gary Johnson and Judge James Gray, the nominees of the Libertarian Party for the offices of President and Vice President. However, the Federal Election Commission rejected their application, stating that they did not meet the requirements for pre-election payments of public funds “because neither the Libertarian Party nor these individual candidates received 5% or more of the vote in the previous (2008) presidential general election” (see Source 3).

        Similarly, only three primary candidates seeking nomination for the office of President in the 2012 elections requested and received presidential primary matching funds. The supporting documents, as well as the matching funds received by each candidate are publicly available at the FEC’s official website. Thus, Buddy Roemer who was seeking the nomination of Americans Elect and the Reform Party was granted a total of US$351,961, the Green Party candidate Jill Stein US$372,130 and the Libertarian Gary Johnson received US$632,017 (see Sources 4 and 7). The 2012 presidential elections were the first since 1976 in which no major-party candidate signed up for public funding, as both candidates opted out of funding for both the primary and general elections (see Source 1).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) complete information on the disbursements is published less than a month after disbursement, and 2) the information is available on the Internet for free or in hard copy at photocopying cost.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the information published is incomplete or published more than two months after disbursement, or 2) obtaining the information costs more than photocopying.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) disbursement information is published more than four months after disbursement, or 2) no disbursement information is published or released upon request.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Information on the Presidential Election Campaign Fund. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/bkgnd/fund.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Democratic and Republican Parties Certified for Convention Funding. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/fecrecord/december2011/conventionfunding2012.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Presidential Public Funding / General Election Correspondence. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/PPF2012GE_Correspondence.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Presidential Matching Fund Submissions. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/2012matching/2012matching.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        5. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        6. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Commission Certifies Federal Matching Funds for Gary Johnson. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/fecrecord/2013/february/johnsonjanuarycertification.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

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      Indirect Public Funding
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        5
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        YES
        In law, use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates is prohibited.More about indicator

        Section 1301 (a) of the General Appropriations Statute stipulates that official funds are to be used only for the purposes for which they were appropriated. Pursuant to this provision, the courts have recognized a general principle according to which government funds should not be spent to help incumbents gain re-election (Common Cause v. Bolger).

        In this framework, the Senate Rules state that no Senate space, equipment, staff time, and resources can be used to conduct campaign activities (Senate Rule 41.1 and Senate Ethics Overview Booklet). Similarly, rule 6 (d) of the House of Representatives’ Committee on Ethics requires that “no member of the staff engage in any partisan political activity directly affecting any congressional or presidential election”.

        Also, the Hatch Act prohibits political activities by employees of the federal government while on duty, in a government room or building, or while wearing a uniform or official sign identifying their office or position. Furthermore, the Hatch Act bans federal employees from engaging in political activities while using a government vehicle [Hatch Act, § 7324 (a)].

        In addition, according to section 452 of the Federal Election Campaign Act, “no part of any funds appropriated to carry out the Economic Opportunity Act of 1964 (a law providing for economic and other measures in order to eliminate poverty) shall be used to finance directly or indirectly, any activity designed to influence the outcome of any election to Federal office, or any voter registration activity, or to pay the salary of any officer or employee of the Office of Economic Opportunity who, in his official capacity as such an officer or employee, engages in any such activity.”

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where there is an explicit ban on the use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A YES is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions, which are accessible to all actors equally.

        A MODERATE score is earned where an explicit ban exists but it only applies to one of the two actors, even though both can be elected. A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        A NO score is also earned where the law exists, but allows discretionary exceptions.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §452. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        2. The General Appropriations Statute, title 31 U.S.C § 1301 (a). Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2009-title31/html/USCODE-2009-title31-subtitleII-chap13.htm

        3. Rules of the Committee on Ethics of the House of Representatives 2013, Rule 6 (d). Available at: http://ethics.house.gov/sites/ethics.house.gov/files/Committee%20Rules%20for%20113th%20Congress.pdf

        4. Standing Rules of the Senate, Rule 41.1. Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/SMAN-112/pdf/SMAN-112.pdf

        5. Common Cause v. Bolger, 574 F. Supp. 672 (D.D.C. 1982), aff'd 461 U.S. 911 (1983). Available at: http://law.justia.com/cases/federal/district-courts/FSupp/574/672/1867561/

        6. Senate Ethics Overview Booklet, 2013. Available at: http://www.ethics.senate.gov/public/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=1aec2c45-aadf-46e3-bb36-c472bcbed20f

        7. The Hatch Act, 5 U.S.C. §§ 7321-7326, 1939 (as amended 1993). Available at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/pkg/USCODE-2010-title5/pdf/USCODE-2010-title5-partIII-subpartF-chap73-subchapIII.pdf

        8. The US office of Special Counsel, Booklet on "Political Activity and the Federal Employee". Available at: https://osc.gov/Resources/ha_fed.pdf

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        50
        In practice, to what extent are no state resources used in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates' electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Cases of abuse of public resources for electoral campaign purposes are rather occasional in the U.S. context (see Source 3). Such cases do not fall into the scope of the Federal Election Commission, but are rather investigated by the Senate and House ethics committees when they involve violations of the Senate or the House Rules. In case of a violation of the Hatch Act provisions by a federal employee, the U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) may initiate investigations and enforcement procedures (see Source 5). As stated at the OSC official website, a Hatch Act investigation is an administrative matter, but certain political activities (i.e. solicitation of political contributions by a government employee, use of official authority for electoral purposes, etc.) may also be criminal offenses (see Source 6).

        A recent case of abuse of public resources involved a Democratic Senator that used her Senate account to pay more than US$33,700 in flights for campaign purposes. The Senator in question released voluntarily the findings of the investigation conducted by the Senate Ethics Committee and publicly apologized noting that she fully repaid the Treasury with campaign funds (see Source 1).

        In another case, the White House Oversight Committee initiated investigations to determine whether public funds have been used for campaign purposes in favor of Democratic candidates. The former Labor Secretary is also currently under investigation for asking a subordinate employee to contribute to president Obama’s re-election campaign while acting in her official capacity as labor secretary (see Source 2).

        Furthermore, the OSC investigated several cases of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees allegedly engaged in political activities while on duty and in the federal workplace. More specifically, after an investigation, the OSC found evidence that an IRS costumer service representative "urged taxpayers to reelect President Obama in 2012 by repeatedly reciting a chant based on the spelling of his last name" during the performance of his duties at an IRS customer service help line. A tax advisory specialist was also suspended from her duties for 14 days for using her official authority in order to promote her political views in favor of the Democratic party, while assisting a taxpayer during the 2012 Presidential election. Another incident involved employees of the IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center in Dallas, Texas, wearing stickers, buttons and clothing to work and displaying screensavers on their IRS computers in support to the 2012 presidential candidate Barack Obama (see Source 3).

        Disciplinary action was also obtained against an attorney at the Federal Election Commission who agreed to resign and is barred from employment within the federal executive branch for two years. A joint investigation between the OSC and the Commission's Inspector General revealed that the employee had posted political tweets, including many soliciting campaign contributions in support of the 2012 reelection campaign of president Obama and other candidates, and had "participated in a Huffington Post Live internet broadcast via webcam from an FEC facility, criticizing the Republican Party and then-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney" (see Source 4).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. It is important to note that incumbent legislators are legally permitted to use many government resources that can provide them with electoral advantages. For instance, members of Congress are permitted to send mail to constituents at government expense. Many studies of the so-called “incumbency advantage” in American politics point to such communications as means by which incumbent officeholders can deter electoral opposition.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there is no evidence of authorities using state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates. A 100 is also earned where there are clearly defined exceptions and are equally accessible to all actors.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) documented evidence indicates occasional use of state resources in favor of or against political parties and individual candidates, or 2) clearly defined exceptions are not equally accessible to all actors.

        A 0 score is earned where documented evidence indicates regular use of state resources in favor of or against certain political parties and individual candidates.

        Sources
        1. "Mary Landrieu internal investigation finds $33,700 in improperly charged flights", by Cole Avery, NOLA, 12 September 2014. Available at: http://www.nola.com/politics/index.ssf/2014/09/marylandrieuinternal_investi.html

        2. "New Probe of White House Seeks to Find Whether Tax Dollars Are Boosting Democratic Campaigns", by Fred Lucas, THE BLAZE, 11 July 2014. Available at: http://www.theblaze.com/stories/2014/07/11/new-probe-of-white-house-seeks-to-find-whether-tax-dollars-are-boosting-democratic-campaigns/

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        4. U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) , "OSC Enforces Hatch Act in a Series of IRS Cases", 9 April 2014. Available at: https://osc.gov/News/pr14_06.pdf

        5. U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) , "OSC Obtains Disciplinary Action in Two Hatch Act Cases", 29 April 2014. Available at: https://osc.gov/News/pr14_09.pdf

        6. U.S. Office of Government Ethics Official Website. Available at: http://www.oge.gov/Topics/Outside-Employment-and-Activities/Political-Activities/

        7. U.S. Office of Special Counsel Official Website, FAQ section. Available at: https://osc.gov/Pages/HatchAct-FAQs.aspx

        8. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        Reviewer's sources: Albert D. Cover, “The Electoral Impact of Franked Mail,” Polity 17/4 (1985), 649-63.

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        NO
        In law, political parties and individual candidates have free or subsidized access to equitable air time for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        There are no legal provisions for free access to air time for electoral campaigns. Although there is no provision for free or subsidized access to air time, federal law does require that if a radio or television broadcaster permits any candidate for public office to buy air time the broadcaster “shall afford equal opportunities to all other such candidates for that office.” In addition, in the pre-election period (45 days before a primary and 60 days before a general election), broadcasters may not charge candidates more than the “lowest unit charge of the state for the same class and amount of time for the same period.” 47 U.S. Code § 315(a), (b)(1). The same “lowest unit charge” for candidates also applies to cable television systems. 47 CFR § 76.206.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Disagree. Suggests a MODERATE score. I disagree with the score and recommend a moderate (50), as though there are no legal provisions for free access to air time for electoral campaigns, the Communications Act of 1934, as amended , however, requires television and radio broadcasters to sell advertising during the 45 days preceding a primary election of sixty days preceding a general election to political candidates at what is known as the “lowest unit charge,” the lowest rate at which advertising time is sold to any advertiser for a certain time period (47 U.S.C. § 315, 47 C.F.R. § 73.1942 and § 76.1611). Because television stations tend to increase the cost of advertising when demand increases, this provision amounts to preferential treatment of political candidates over political parties, nonparty groups, and nonpolitical advertisers.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, and 2) there are clearly defined eligibility criteria.

        A MODERATE score is earned where free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns is granted in a transparent, equitable way, but eligibility criteria are not clearly defined.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        1) 47 U.S.C. § 315 (b). Available at: http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/policy/political/candrule.htm

        2) Code of Federal Regulations, title 47 § 73.1942, § 76.1611 and §76.206. Available at: http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/policy/political/candrule.htm

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        8
        Score
        50
        In practice, to what extent is free or subsidized access to air time provided in a transparent, equitable way to political parties and individual candidates for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        Not applicable. There is no free or subsidized access to air time for electoral campaigns. All airtime is purchased (see Source 3).

        With regard to paid airtime, the law includes an equal opportunity provision, stating that when a broadcaster (radio or television station or cable system) allows any person who is a legally qualified candidate for any public office to use airtime, it shall afford equal opportunities to all other candidates for the same office in the use of such broadcasting station (see Source 1). This means that when a station sells or gives free airtime to a candidate, it must give or sell the same amount of time with the same potential audience to all other candidates running for the same office (see Source 4). As noted by political finance specialist Dr. Anthony Corrado who was interviewed for the purposes of this research, in practice, broadcasting stations usually offer paid airtime to any candidate or party who can afford it. As a result, the more money a candidate or party has, the more airtime she/he can purchase and use (see Source 3).

        The equal time rule does not apply in case a candidate appears in a documentary, a bona fide news interview, a newscast and an on-the-sport coverage of news events (see Source 1). Presidential press conferences and debates are considered on-the-spot news events and therefore are not covered by the equal opportunity rule (see Sources 3 and 4). Thus, broadcasting stations can choose which candidates to include in a debate, often leaving out minor party candidates (see Source 4). Finally, the Federal Communications Commission has recently ruled that equal time principle does not apply to groups that purchase time independently of parties and candidates, even if the airtime is used to advocate in favor or against a specific candidate (see Source 2).


        Peer Reviewer comment: The research discusses the “equal opportunity” rule but does not mention the “lowest unit charge” rule, 47 CFR §§ 73.1943, 76.206, which as a practical matter is more important. See generally David D. Oxenford,” Political Broadcasting: Answering Your Questions on the FCC’s Rules and Policies,” http://www.dwt.com/files/Uploads/Documents/Advisories/12-07_PoliticalBroadcasting(Guide).pdf. Candidates are entitled to equal opportunities to purchase radio and TV air time at the “lowest unit charge” but are not entitled to free or subsidized access.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is always provided in a transparent and equitable way, and 2) the defined eligibility criteria are applied consistently.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) free or subsidized access to media advertising is usually provided in a transparent and equitable way, but exceptions exist, or 2) the eligibility criteria are not always applied.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) there's rarely free or subsidized access to air time for political campaign, and 2) access exists but is not provided in a transparent, equitable way.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations, title 47, §315. Available at: http://transition.fcc.gov/mb/policy/political/candrule.htm

        2. "FCC: No More Equal Time Requirements for Political Campaign Supporters Over Our Public Airwaves", by Sue Wilson, HUFFINGTON POST, 15 May 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sue-wilson/fcc-no-more-equal-time-reb5332812.html

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        4. Museum of Broadcast Communications Official Website - Equal Time Rule. Available at: http://www.museum.tv/eotv/equaltimeru.htm

        Reviewer's sources: David D. Oxenford,” Political Broadcasting: Answering Your Questions on the FCC’s Rules and Policies,” http://www.dwt.com/files/Uploads/Documents/Advisories/12-07_PoliticalBroadcasting(Guide).pdf

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    Contribution and Expenditure Restrictions

    More about category
    composite
    72
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      General Rules on Electoral Campaign Contributions
      More about category
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        9
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, cash contributions are banned.More about indicator

        Section 441g of the Federal Election Campaign Act prohibits cash contributions granted with respect to a primary or general election to Federal office and whose total value exceeds US$100. The law further requires that "a candidate or committee receiving a cash contribution in excess of $100 shall promptly return the amount over $100 to the contributor" [11 CFR, §110.4 (c)(2)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where cash contributions are banned and all financial contributions must be made via the banking system.

        A MODERATE score is earned where cash contributions are allowed up to a maximum limit, regardless of the limit.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §441g. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        2. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §110.4 (c)(2). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

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        10
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, there is a ban on anonymous contributions.More about indicator

        No anonymous donations whose value exceeds US$50 can be accepted by any candidate or political committee. The law requires that the treasurer of a political committee keep an account of the name and address of any person who makes any contribution in excess of $50, together with the date and amount of such contribution by any person [FECA, §432 (c)(2)]. The Code of Federal Regulations also establishes that "a candidate or committee receiving an anonymous cash contribution in excess of $50 shall promptly dispose of the amount over $50. The amount over $50 may be used for any lawful purpose unrelated to any Federal election, campaign, or candidate." [11 CFR, §110.4 (c)(3)]


        Peer Reviewer comment: Agree. 2 USC § 432(c)(3) does not literally ban anonymous contributions of more than $50. Rather, it requires a campaign treasurer to keep an account of the name and address of every person who makes a contribution in excess of $50, as well as the date and amount of the contribution. As a practical matter, this does bar the acceptance of anonymous contributions of more than $50, and the FEC regulation cited does require that a committee that receives an anonymous contribution of more than $50 to use the amount greater than $50 for purposes unrelated to any federal election, candidate or campaign.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where the law stipulates that anonymous contributions are banned.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the ban exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where small anonymous donations are allowed up to a maximum threshold equal to or less than the equivalent to US$300.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §432 (c)(2). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        2. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §110.4 (c)(3). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

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        11
        Score
        YES
        In law, in-kind donations to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        Political parties and candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports. According to section 434 of the Federal Election Campaign Act, each treasurer of a political committee shall report contributions and disbursements. The term “contribution” includes any “gift, subscription, loan, advance, or deposit of money or anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office” [11 CFR §100.52 (a)]. Section 100.52 (d)(1) of the Campaign Finance Regulations further specifies that the term “anything of value” includes all in-kind contributions, such as the provision of any goods, services or property without charge or at a charge that is less than the usual. Political committees shall report each in-kind contribution both as a contribution and as an expenditure [11 CFR, §104.13 (a)(1-2) and §104.17 (a)(3)].

        The value of goods (such as facilities, equipment, supplies or mailing lists) is calculated on the basis of the price the item or facility would cost if purchased or rented at the time the contribution is made. Similarly, services (such as advertising, printing or consultant services) are valued at the prevailing commercial rate at the time the services are rendered [11 CFR, §100.52 (d)(2) and §100.111 (e)(2)]. As noted by the FEC, the monetary value of an in-kind contribution is subject to the same limits as monetary contributions (see Sources 3, 4 and indicators 13, 16).

        Similarly, 2 U.S.C. 431(8)(A)(i) defines “contribution” as, inter alia, “anything of value made by any person for the purpose of influencing any election for Federal office,.” 2 U.S.C.434 (b) also requires that political committees, which include candidate committees and political party committees report all contributions. Section 431 (8)(B) does provide some exemptions from the definition of reportable contribution. These include: volunteer services and the use of real or personal property voluntarily provided by an individual rendering volunteer services plus the cost of invitations, food and beverages up to a maximum of $1000 for a single election and $2000 to a political party in a calendar year (431(8)(B)(i),(ii)); food and beverages provided to a campaign or party committee at a discount from the normal charge, but not below cost to the vendor, up to a value of $1000 per election and $2000 to a party for a calendar year (432(8)(B)(iii)); any unreimbursed payment for travel expenses made by an individual for a campaign, up to $1000 per election and $2000 for a political party in a calendar year (432 (8)(B)(iv)).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all in-kind donations must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is also earned if the requirement to report such information exists, but applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        2. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §100.52 (a) and (d), §104.13 (a)(1-2) , §104.17 (a)(3), §100.111 (e)(2). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Political Party Committees, August 2013. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/partygui.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees, June 2014. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/candgui.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014)

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        12
        Score
        YES
        In law, loans to political parties and individual candidates must be reported.More about indicator

        The term loan includes a guarantee, endorsement, and any other form of security [11 CFR, § 100.52 (b)]. A loan is considered a contribution at the time it is made and to the extent that it remains unpaid. The amount of the contribution is reduced with repayments made on the loan and once fully repaid, it does no longer count as a contribution. Section 100.52 (b)(2), 11 CFR specifies that the aggregate amount loaned to a candidate or committee by a contributor, when added to other contributions from that individual to that candidate or committee, shall not exceed the contribution limitations”. As a result, a loan exceeding the contribution limits is considered unlawful even if it has been fully repaid [11 CFR, §100.52 (b)(1)].

        With regard to bank loans, the law states that they are not considered contributions if they bear the usual and customary interest rate of the lending institution for the category of loan involved, are made on a basis that assures repayment, are evidenced by a written instrument and are subject to a due date or amortization schedule [11 CFR, §100.82 (a).

        The law requires that all loans be itemized and reported continuously until fully repaid [11 CFR, §104.3 (a)(4)(iv) and (d)]. A bank loan must be reported as a receipt and any repayment made on the loan as a disbursement [11 CFR, §104.3 (a)(3)(vii)(B) and (b)(2)(iii)(A)].

        Peer Reviewer 1: Agree. Also, candidates may make unlimited loans to themselves from their own personal funds. These loans must be disclosed and must be reported as loans up until they are repaid or are converted into campaign contributions. Pursuant to provisions of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, candidates may repay any personal loans from campaign funds up until the election; once twenty days have passed since the election they may only repay up to $250,000 of any personal loan from campaign funds (11 CFR, §116.1 (b) and (c)). Following that date any amount in excess of $250,000 must be reported as a contribution.

        Peer Reviewer 2: Agree. 2 U.S. Code 431(8)(A)(i) expressly defines “contribution” to include “loan.” The statutory basis for the exemption from treatment of a loan issued by a banking institution bearing “the usual and customary interest rate of the lending institution” and “on a basis which assures repayment, evidenced by a written instrument, and subject to a due date or amortization schedule” 2 U.S. Code 431(8)(B)((vii).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where all loans must be reported to the oversight authority.

        A MODERATE score is earned where loans must be reported, but the requirement applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §100.52 (b), §100.82 (a), §104.3 (a), (b) and (d). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Political Party Committees, Ch. 12, section 11. August 2013. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/partygui.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees, Ch. 20 - 21. June 2014. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/candgui.pdf (accessed on 5 September 2014)

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      Limits on Contributions and Expenditures during Electoral Campaign Periods
      More about category
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        13
        Score
        YES
        In law, contributions from individuals are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        Political parties and candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports.

        It was established in the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) of 2002 that contributions from individuals to any candidate, his or her authorized political committees or agents with respect to any election for Federal office cannot exceed US$2,000 plus an inflation adjustment. “The increased contribution limitation shall be in effect for the two-year period beginning on the first day following the date of the last general election in the year preceding the year in which the contribution limitation is increased and ending on the date of the next general election” [11 CFR, § 110.1 (b) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(A)]. For example, for the 2011-2012 election cycle, donations to each candidate or authorized committee were limited to a total of US$2,500 per individual (see Source 4). For the 2013-2014 federal elections this amount went up to US$2,600 per individual contributor (see Source 5). Candidates may also make unlimited contributions from their own resources to their campaign committees (11 CFR, §110.10).

        In addition, the law establishes an annual limit of the total amount an individual can contribute to a national party committee which is not the authorized political committee of any candidate. This amount cannot exceed US$25,000 plus an inflation adjustment [11 CFR, § 110.1 (c) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(B)]. For the 2011-2012 election cycle the limit was US$30,800 per calendar year, while for 2013-2014 it shall be US$32,400 (see Sources 4 and 5). With regards to any other political committee, an individual is not allowed to contribute more than US$5,000 in the aggregate per calendar year [11 CFR, § 110.1 (d) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(C)]. The law also states that “the total amount an individual can donate to a political committee established and maintained by a State committee of a political party in any calendar year cannot exceed US$10,000” [FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(D) and 11 CFR, § 110.1 (c) (5)]. Taking into account these provisions, it is important to mention that there is no limit to the total amount of individual contributions a political committee may receive, as long as the separate contributions do not violate the limits mentioned above.

        Finally, the law establishes limits to the total amount of contributions from an individual to all candidates and political committees over a two-year period. More specifically, no individual may make contributions aggregating more than US$37,500 to all federal candidates and their authorized committees and US$57,500 to any other political committees, including parties and political action committees (PACs) [FECA, § 441a (3)]. However, in the 2014 Supreme Court ruling McCutcheon v. FEC, these limits were declared unconstitutional for violating free speech rights. This decision strikes down the aggregate limits on the amount an individual may contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties and political action committees combined, but it does not affect the limits on separate contributions by an individual (see Source 6).

        Peer Reviewer coment: If it were possible to score between a YES and a MODERATE here, that is the score I would assign. The research summary is absolutely correct as far as it goes – that is, there are limits on how much an individual can give to a candidate committee, a political party committee, and to political committees, and that the limit on how much an individual can contribute in the aggregate in one year (and the subaggregates limiting total donations to all candidates and to all parties and political committees), the federal courts of appeals have held that the limits on individual donations to political committees cannot be applied with respect to political committees that only engage in independent expenditures, e.g., they do not contribute to federal candidates. See, e.g., SpeechNow.org v. FEC, 599 F.3d 686 (D.C. Cir. 2010); Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce v. FEC, 603 F.3d 684 (9th Cir. 2010); Wisconsin Right to Life State Political Action Comm. v. Barland, 664 F.3d 139 (7th Cir. 2011). Committees that may accept unlimited contributions to finance independent expenditures are colloquially known as Super PACs. In addition, following an order of a federal district court, see Carey v. FEC, 791 F.Supp.2d 121 (D.D.. 2011). The Federal Election Commission has determined (i) political committees that make contributions to candidates may establish “non-contribution accounts” which may be used to finance independent expenditures and (ii) the statutory limits on contributions will no longer be enforced with respect to contributions to such “non-contribution accounts.”

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) individuals may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where individuals are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §100.1 (b), (c) and (d). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §441a (1) and (3). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission - Contributions Brochure (Updated April 2014). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contributions_brochure.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014)

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website, 2011-2012 Campaign Cycle Contribution Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/20110203newlimits.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website, 2013-2014 Contribution Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contriblimits.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        6. McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission, U.S. 12-536. U.S. (2014). Case summary and final judgment available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/McCutcheon.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        Reviewer's sources: FEC, FEC Statement on Carey v. FEC: Reporting Guidance for Political Committees that Maintain a Non-Contribution Account, Oct. 5, 2011, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/20111006postcarey.shtml.

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        14
        Score
        MODERATE
        In law, contributions from corporations are limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        Corporations and national banks are not allowed to make contributions or expenditures in relation to any election to any political office [11 CFR, §114.2 and FECA, §441b (a)].

        The law provides that corporations can establish “separate segregated funds”, which are political action committees (PACs) allowed to solicit voluntary contributions from their stockholders and their families as well as their executive or administrative personnel and their families, and use those funds to support federal candidates and political committees [11 CFR, §114.5 and FECA, §441b (b)]. It is important to note that corporations may donate to Super PACs and non-contribution accounts notwithstanding the corporate contribution ban (see Source 4). A PAC may not contribute corporate funds – known colloquially as “treasury funds” to a candidate. The corporation can pay for the establishment and operation of a PAC and for the solicitation of donations to the PAC by corporate executive and administrative personnel, stockholders, and the families of those two groups, which can be used for contributions to candidates and parties. But corporations are barred from contributing funds to the PAC to be used for contributions.

        Political action committees are treated differently in law depending on whether they qualify as “multicandidate committees.” A multicandidate committee is a political committee with more than 50 contributors which has been registered with the Federal Election Commission for at least six months and made contributions to at least five candidates for federal office [11 CFR, §100.5(e)(3) and FECA, §441a (a)(4)]. In this case, the law stipulates that a multicandidate PAC can contribute up to US$15,000 to a national party committee per calendar year and a total of US$5,000 to each federal candidate or his/her authorized committee per election, or to any other political committee per calendar year [11 CFR, §110.2(b) and FECA, §441a (a)(2)]. These amounts are not adjusted for inflation.

        If a PAC does not qualify as a multi-candidate committee, it is treated under law in a similar fashion to individual contributors. Such PACs are not allowed to contribute more than US$2,000 plus an inflation adjustment to any federal candidate or candidate political committee per election [11 CFR, § 110.1 (b) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(A)]. For the 2011-2012 election cycle, donations to each candidate or his/her authorized committee were limited to a total of US$2,500 per PAC and for the 2013-2014 federal elections this amount went up to US$2,600 (see Sources 4 and 5). In addition, the law establishes an annual limit of the total amount a PAC can contribute to a national party committee which is not the authorized political committee of any candidate. This amount cannot exceed US$25,000 plus an inflation adjustment [11 CFR, § 110.1 (c) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(B)]. For the 2011-2012 election cycle the limit was US$30,800 per calendar year, while for 2013-2014 it shall be US$32,400 (see Sources 4 and 5). With regards to any other political committee, a PAC is not allowed to contribute more than US$5,000 in the aggregate per calendar year [11 CFR, § 110.1 (d) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(C)]. The law also requires that the total amount a PAC can donate to a political committee established and maintained by a State committee of a political party in any calendar year cannot exceed US$10,000 [FECA, §441a (a)(1)(D) and 11 CFR, §110.1 (c) (5)].

        SIgnificantly, in the 2010 ruling Citizens United v. FEC the Supreme Court held that independent campaign expenditures and political broadcasts made by corporations cannot be restricted, as that would violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech. This decision allows corporations to make unlimited independent expenditures and electioneering communications that explicitly advocate in favor or against the election of a candidate (see Source 3). The term “electioneering communications” is defined as any broadcast, cable, or satellite communication which refers to a clearly identified candidate for Federal office and which is made within 60 days before a general, special, or runoff election for the office sought by the candidate; or 30 days before a primary [FECA, §434 (f)(3)(A)]. The law also applies to so-called “independent expenditure PACs” or “Super PACs” which can accept unlimited corporate, labor, or individual contributions provided they do not make direct contributions to candidates (see Source 3).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) corporations may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law.

        A MODERATE score is earned where a maximum amount or ban exists, but it applies only to contributions for one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates). A MODERATE score is also earned where corporations are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, § 110.1, §114.2 and §114.5. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (f)(3)(A), § 441a, §441b (a) & (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        3. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/cusc08opinion.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        4. FEC, FEC Statement on Carey v. FEC: Reporting Guidance for Political Committees that Maintain a Non-Contribution Account, Oct. 5, 2011, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/20111006postcarey.shtml.

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        15
        Score
        YES
        In law, contributions from foreign sources are banned.More about indicator

        Contributions and expenditures made by foreign nationals, either directly or indirectly, in relation to any federal, State or local election, are banned. This prohibition refers to individuals who are not citizens of the United States or who are not lawfully admitted for permanent residence, as well as foreign governments, political parties, entities or corporations [11 CFR, §110.20 and FECA, §441e].

        However, as pointed out by the Center for Responsive Politics, U.S. divisions of foreign companies can form political action committees (PACs) and collect contributions from their U.S. employees (see Source 3).

        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The constitutionality of the ban on foreign contributions was sustained by a federal district court in Bluman v. FEC (2011). The Supreme Court summarily affirmed that decision without an opinion, Bluman v. FEC (2012).

        Bluman v. FEC, 800 F.Supp. 2d 281 (D.D.C. 2011), http://www.leagle.com/decision/In%20FDCO%2020120221B34.xml/BLUMAN%20v.%20FEDERAL%20ELECTION%20COM'N.(accessed December 11, 2014); Bluman v. FEC, 132 S.Ct. 1087 (2012), http://www.campaignlegalcenter.org/attachments/StatesBriefSupporting_Montana.pdf (accessed December 11, 2014).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to receive contributions (financial or in-kind) from foreign sources.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the ban exists but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates), or 2) contributions from foreign sources are allowed to a maximum amount.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §110.20. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §441e. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        3. Center for Responsive Politics: Foreign-connected PACs. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/foreign.php (accessed on 6 September 2014).

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        16
        Score
        YES
        In law, contributions from third-party actors (unions, foundations, think tanks, political action committees, etc.) are limited to a maximum amount or banned.More about indicator

        First of all it is important to keep in mind that political parties and candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports. Apart from parties and candidates, political committees can also be established by other actors. Political parties are themselves political committees engaged in campaign finance activities and subject to disclosure requirements. See 2 USC 431(4)(A),(C) (definition of “political committee”), and 2 USC 434(a)(4)(B) (reporting obligations of political committees) and 2 USC 434(e)(1) (specific reporting rules for national and congressional party committees). Political committees are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports.

        Even though labor unions and corporations - including incorporated nonprofit organizations - are not allowed to make any campaign contributions to parties' and candidates' committees, they can sponsor and administer separate segregated funds, which are political action committees (PACs) allowed to solicit voluntary contributions from their stockholders and their families as well as their executive or administrative personnel and their families, and use those funds to support federal candidates and political committees [11 CFR, §114.5 and FECA, §441b (a), (b)].

        There is also another type of PAC called “non-connected political committee”. This term refers to any committee, club, association, or other group of persons which receives contributions or makes expenditures aggregating in excess of US$1,000 during a calendar year and is not a party committee, an authorized committee of a candidate or a separate segregated fund [11 CFR, §100.5 (A), FECA, §431 (4)(A)].

        These two types of PACs (non-connected political committees and separate segregated funds) are considered “multicandidate committees” if they have more than 50 contributors, have been registered with the Federal Election Commission for at least six months, and made contributions to at least five candidates for federal office [11 CFR, §100.5(e)(3) and FECA, §441a (a)(4)]. In this case, the law stipulates that a multicandidate PAC can contribute up to US$15,000 to a national party committee per calendar year and a total of US$5,000 to each federal candidate or his/her authorized committee per election, or to any other political committee per calendar year [11 CFR, §110.2(b) and FECA, §441a (a)(2)]. These amounts are not adjusted for inflation.

        If PACs do not meet the thresholds to be considered multi-candidate committees, they are treated in law in a similar fashion to individual contributors. They are not allowed to contribute more than US$2,000 plus an inflation adjustment to any federal candidate or candidate political committee per election [11 CFR, § 110.1 (b) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(A)]. For the 2011-2012 election cycle, donations to each candidate or his/her authorized committee were limited to a total of US$2,500 per PAC and for the 2013-2014 federal elections this amount went up to US$2,600 (see Sources 4 and 5). In addition, the law establishes an annual limit of the total amount a PAC can contribute to a national party committee which is not the authorized political committee of any candidate. This amount cannot exceed US$25,000 plus an inflation adjustment [11 CFR, § 110.1 (c) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(B)]. For the 2011-2012 election cycle the limit was US$30,800 per calendar year, while for 2013-2014 it shall be US$32,400 (see Sources 4 and 5). With regards to any other political committee, a PAC is not allowed to contribute more than US$5,000 in the aggregate per calendar year [11 CFR, § 110.1 (d) and FECA, § 441a (a)(1)(C)]. The law also requires that the total amount a PAC can donate to a political committee established and maintained by a State committee of a political party in any calendar year cannot exceed US$10,000 [FECA, §441a (a)(1)(D) and 11 CFR, §110.1 (c) (5)].

        Apart from the contribution limits mentioned above, there are no restrictions to the total amount a PAC can raise or spend independently to advocate in favor or against a candidate.


        Peer Reviewer comment: Agree. It is worth emphasizing that union treasury funds may not be contributed to candidates. Foundations are barred by the Internal Revenue Code from engaging in political activity other than support for non-partisan voter education, voter registration and get-out-the-vote activity. This would also apply to any tax-exempt think tanks. It is also worth emphasizing that for trade unions, union treasury funds may not be contributed to candidates. Unions and other organizations (but not foundations and other tax-exempt organizations) may make unlimited contributions to Super PACs that finance independent expenditures and to the “non-contribution accounts” of PACs that make contributions to candidates.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors may not contribute more than a maximum amount established by the law, or 2) are forbidden from making any contribution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the maximum amount or ban exists only for the majority of third-party actors, but not all, or 2) the maximum amount or ban exists, but applies only to contributions for either political parties or individual candidates.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §114.5, §100.5, §110.1 (b), (c) and (d), §110.2 (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §441b, §431 (4)(A), §441a (a). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Campaign Guide for Non-connected Committees, May 2008. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/nongui.pdf (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website, 2011-2012 Campaign Cycle Contribution Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/20110203newlimits.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website, 2013-2014 Contribution Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/contriblimits.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        Reviewer's sources: IRS, “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations,” http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501(c)(3)-Tax-Exempt-Organizations

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        17
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        NO
        In law, election campaign spending by political parties and individual candidates is limited to a maximum amount.More about indicator

        There are no legal limits on campaign spending, given that in the 1976 ruling in Buckley v. Valeo the Supreme Court held that "spending limits would constrain the right to free speech as enshrined in the First Amendment to the Constitution" (see Source 2).

        There are however coordinated party expenditure limits applicable to national, State and local party committees. In this regard, the law states that the national committee of a political party may not make any expenditure in connection with the general election campaign of any candidate for President of the United States who is affiliated with such party which exceeds an amount equal to 2 cents multiplied by the voting age population of the United States plus a cost of living adjustment [FECA, §441a (d)(2)]. For the 2012 presidential elections, the maximum amount was US$21.68 million (see Source 3). In the case of a candidate for election to the office of Senator, or of Representative from a State which is entitled to only one Representative, the limit shall be equal to 2 cents multiplied by the voting age population of the State or US$20,000 plus a cost of living adjustment [FECA, §441a (d)(3)(A)]. For the 2014 general elections, this went up to US$94,500 for House candidates in States with only one representative and from US$94,500 to US$2,76 for Senate candidates, depending on each State’s voting age population (see Source 4). In any other State, the coordinated party expenditure limit for candidates to the House of Representatives shall be US$10,000 [FECA, §441a (d)(3)(B)]. With the cost of living adjustment, this was fixed at $47,200 for the 2014 elections (see Source 4). However, apart from the expenditure limits mentioned above, party committees can make unlimited independent expenditures to advocate in favor or against any candidate.

        Only presidential candidates who accept public funding for general elections are subject to a spending limit.This limit was originally established as $20 million plus a cost of living adjustment [FECA, §441a(b)(1)(B) and (c)]. For the 2012 presidential elections this went up to a total of US$91.2 million, but no presidential candidate signed up for public funding (see Source 5).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where it is forbidden for political parties and individual candidates to spend more than a certain amount in a political campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the maximum amount exists, but it applies only to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), §441a (d), §441a(b)(1)(B) and (c). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        2. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 23 (1976). Case summary available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigationCCAB.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014)

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/info/charts441ad2012.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2014 Coordinated Party Expenditure Limits. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/info/charts441ad2014.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Public Funding of Presidential Elections Brochure. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/pubfund.shtml (accessed on 6 September 2014)

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        Open Question: Do the national laws regulating political finance also apply to sub-national units? If not, to what extent do sub-national units have laws regulating political finance?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Campaign Act applies only to federal election for the House of Representatives, the Senate and the office of President. Electoral campaigns at the sub-national level are regulated by diverse laws in each State (see Source 1). For example, 25 out of the 50 States have laws providing for public funding in election campaigns. According to the data provided by the National Conference of State Legislatures, 14 States have provisions for public funding for candidates, 10 States provide funding to political parties and 7 States offer tax incentives such as credits or deductions for citizens who make contributions to political parties (see Source 2).

        With regard to contribution limits, seven States (Alabama, Indiana, Virginia, Utah, Nebraska, Missouri and Oregon) have no regulated limits to any kind or amount of contributions, while 21 States prohibit contributions from corporations (see Source 3). Cash contributions are limited in 31 states, most of them setting the limit at US$100. In addition, with the exception of Indiana, South Carolina, and New Mexico, the remaining 47 States have reporting requirements for independent expenditures (see Source 4).


        Peer Reviewer 1 comment: Agree. In denying certiorari in the case of American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock (567 U.S. _ (2012)), the Supreme Court held that its Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission decision prevented states from restricting independent expenditures by individuals, corporations, or labor unions in state or local elections.

        Peer Reviewer 2 comment: Agree. The decisions of the United States Supreme Court applying the First Amendment to campaign finance law also apply to the states. Thus, the states cannot adopt spending limits and excessively restrictive state contribution limits are invalid. See Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006). One Supreme Court decision in particular had a major impact on state public funding programs – Arizona Free Enterprise Club’s Freedom PAC v. Bennett, 131 S.Ct. 2806 (2011) -- invalidatinga state law that would have given a publicly funded candidate more money if the funds spent against the candidate by a privately-funded opponent and hostile independent committees exceeded a threshold amount. Furthermore, federal law does regulate the activities of state political parties and state candidates when they affect federal elections. Specifically a candidate for state office may accept only those contributions that comply with federal dollar limits and source prohibitions if the candidate spends money on public communications that refer to a clearly defined federal candidate and support or oppose that federal candidate. 2 U.S. Code 441i(f). State political parties that spend money on federal election activity defined to include voter registration activity within 120 days before a federal election; get-out-the-vote and generic campaign activity in connection with an election in which there is a federal candidate on the ballot (even if there is also a state candidate on the ballot); public communications supporting or opposing federal candidates; and salaries of party workers who spent 25% or more of their time in any month on activities in connection with a federal election. 2 U.S. Code 441i(b).

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the applicability of national political finance regulations at the sub-national level, being sure to answer: 1) whether national laws are applicable to sub-national campaigns; 2) if not, to what extent do sub-national units have similar laws regulating political finance; and 3) whether there are any reports of problems arising from gaps in this framework.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        2. National Conference of State Legislatures - Public Financing of Campaigns. Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/research/elections-and-campaigns/public-financing-of-campaigns-overview.aspx

        3. National Conference of State Legislatures - State Limitations on Contributions to Candidates. Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/documents/legismgt/LimitstoCandidates_2012-2014.pdf

        4. National Conference of State Legislatures - Independent Expenditure Disclosure Requirements. Available at: http://www.ncsl.org/Portals/1/documents/legismgt/2014IndependentExpenditures_Chart.pdf

        Reviewers' sources: American Tradition Partnership v. Bullock (567 U.S. _ (2012)), http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/11pdf/11-1179h9j3.pdf(accessed December 11, 2014). ? Randall v. Sorrell, 548 U.S. 230 (2006), http://www.law.cornell.edu/supct/html/04-1528.ZS.html (accessed December 11, 2014). Arizona Free Enterprise Club's Freedom PAC v. Bennett, 131 Ct. 2806 (2011), http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/10pdf/10-238.pdf (accessed December 11, 2014). 2 U.S.C. 441i(f); 2 U.S.C. 441i(b).

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        Open Question: What are the predominant sources of funding for electoral campaigns?More about indicator

        In the US context, parties’ and candidates’ electoral campaign funding mainly relies on private contributions. Direct public funding is only available for presidential candidates participating in primary and general elections, but given that it is conditioned on strict contribution and expenditure limits, no major party candidate opted for public funding for the 2012 presidential elections (see Source 2 and Indicator 1). Even though corporations are not allowed to make any contributions to political parties and candidates, they can establish and administer separate segregated funds, which are political action committees (PACs) allowed to solicit voluntary contributions from their stockholders and their families as well as their executive or administrative personnel and their families, and use those funds to support parties’ and candidates’ campaign committees. Other sources of funding include private contributions from individuals and traditional PACs (see Indicator 37), as well as candidate self-financing.

        During the 2012 presidential campaign, the Democratic candidate Barack Obama raised approximately US$715,7 million and spent US$683,5 million, whereas the Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised US$446,1 million and spent US$433,3 million. While 33% of the private contributions received by Obama originated from small individual contributors giving up to US$200, 82% of Romney’s contributions came from large individual donors giving more than US$2,000. In addition, the Republican candidate received US$1,1 million from PACs and self-financed US$52,500. On the other hand, the Democratic candidate did not report any PAC contributions and self-financed only US$5,000 (see Sources 2 and 6).

        In view of the 2014 congressional midterm elections, Democratic candidates running for the House of Representatives have raised a total of US$321,4 million and Republican candidates have received US$430,2 million. Regarding Senate candidates, the Democrats raised an aggregate of US$201,8 million and Republicans US$211,8 million (see Source 6). In addition, at least 10 House candidates contributed US$1 - US$4 million from their own funds, while the highest amount a Senate candidate has contributed from his own funds goes up to US$5,1 million (see Source 5). Overall outside spending (that is, election-related expenditures other than direct contributions to candidates) constituted $1.29 billion (see Source 7).

        Finally, as noted by Mr. Sam Garrett, a specialist interviewed for the purposes of this research, it is important to make the distinction between contributions to political parties and candidates and independent expenditures made by Super PACs and certain tax-exempt organizations in support of parties and candidates (see Source 2). These groups cannot make direct contributions to federal parties and candidates, but they can make unlimited campaign expenditures provided that they are not coordinated with a party or candidate (see Source 4 and Indicator 37).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The Campaign Finance Institute found that in 2012 (2014 data is not yet final), on average candidates for the House of Representatives received 56% of their funds from individuals, 35% from PACs, 1% from political parties, and 5% in self-funding. For candidates for the Senate, 67% came from individuals, 13% from PACs, 3% from the political parties, and 13% in self-funding. These numbers reflect only donations to the candidates (and for money from political parties, coordinated expenditures), not supportive independent expenditures. The Federal Election Commission reports that in 2012 the national political party committees reported receiving $902 million, of which $573 million came from individuals and $87 million came from other committees. The FEC does not indicate what sources provided the remaining funds.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe the important sources of funding for electoral campaigns, being sure to answer: 1) where does the preponderance of funding come from - public, individual, corporate, or other; 2) to what extent do individual candidates self-finance; and 3) do political parties have other methods of generating campaign funds, such as owning their own businesses or trusts.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Sam Garrett, Ph.D., Specialist in American National Government, 16 September 2014.

        3. Center for Responsive Politics - Politicians and Elections. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/elections/

        4. "Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress", by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service Report, 4 April 2013. Available at: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42042.pdf

        5. Center for Responsive Politics - Top Self Funders for the 2014 Elections. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/overview/topself.php?Cycle=2014&Display=S&Type=A2 Note: The 2014 reference is for only part of the election cycle. Final figures will be available through the FEC website (www.fec.gov) or the Center for Responsive Politics website (www.opensecrets.org).

        6. The Washington Post - 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/campaign-finance/

        7. Center for Responsive Politics, “Outside Spending in 2012,” http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/fes_summ.php?cycle=2012.

        Reviewer's sources: FEC, Federal Financial Activity of Party Committees Through June 30 of the Election Year, http://www.fec.gov/press/summaries/2014/tables/party/Prty1201418m.pdf. Campaign Finance Institute, Campaign Funding Sources: House and Senate Major Party General Election Candidates, 1984-2012, http://www.cfinst.org/pdf/vital/VitalStats_t8.pdf.

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        20
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        Open Question: Have there been documented instances of violations of contribution or expenditure limits or any of the laws mentioned above (Section 2)?More about indicator

        In general, the Commission identifies potential violations of the contribution limits based on the financial reports submitted by parties’ and candidates’ committees. The law does not establish any expenditure limits and therefore there were no relevant cases during the 2012 election year. Several violations of the contribution limits have been investigated by the Federal Election Commission in relation to the 2012 federal elections (see Source 2). However, it should be noted that these were relatively routine and minor violations.

        For instance, the Commission’s Reports Analysis Division found that the principal campaign committee of the elected presidential candidate Barack Obama received excessive contributions totaling US$160,272 for the 2012 Primary and General Elections from two hundred individuals and failed to timely refund, re-attribute, or re-designate these excessive contributions. The matter was resolved through an Alternative Dispute Resolution process which culminated in a settlement agreement between the Commission and the presidential campaign committee that agreed to pay a civil penalty of US$12,000 (see Source 1).

        Furthermore, the Commission identified a case of a political committee called Friends of Herman Cain, Inc. that received excessive contributions from 66 individuals and prohibited contributions from two corporate entities in relation to the 2012 Primary Elections. In addition, the political committee did not timely refund 2012 General Election contributions aggregating US$87,780 from 43 individuals and one political committee after the candidate announced on 3 December 2011 that he would not participate in the 2012 Primary Election. In order to resolve the matter, the political committee entered into a negotiated settlement with the Commission, agreeing to pay a civil penalty of US$19,000 and remedy the excessive contributions through refunds to the US Treasury and report these transactions on a quarterly basis to the Alternative Dispute Resolution Office (see Source 3).

        In another case, the principal campaign committee of a Senate candidate failed to refund or re-designate all contributions received in 2010 for a special election that was never held and thus resulted in the acceptance of excessive contributions. The case was resolved through a conciliation agreement providing for a civil penalty of US$6,250 (see Source 4).

        On the other hand, some violations resulted in criminal cases. For example, two cases covered in 2014 both involve the illegal use of straw donors to circumvent contribution restrictions (See sources 5 and 6)


        Peer Reviewer 1 comment: Agree. Candidates are advised to have funds available in order to refund suspect contributions, and candidates are ultimately responsible for ensuring that excessive contributions are refunded (11 CFR, §103.3(b)(5)).

        Peer Reviewer 2 comment: Agree. The research comment provides only a partial list of violations of contribution limits. That seems inevitable as there is no compilation of all violations and is probably impossible to put a comprehensive one together. The research focuses primarily on the actions of the Federal Election Commission, but as sources 5 and 6 indicate, many violations result in criminal cases. See, e.g., Tom Hays, “Democratic Fundraiser and Hotel Magnate Sant Singh Chatwal Pleads Guilty,” Alan Suderman and Ben Wieder, “Hillary Clinton 2008 Presidential Campaign Got Huge Boost From Shady Group,” Associated Press, “Pierce O’Donnell Pleads Guilty to Illegal Edwards Donations,” Sean Whaley and Jeff German, “Former lobbyist sentenced to 24 months for illegal campaign contributions to Reid.” Most of these cases involve “straw donors,” that is the funneling of very large donations through employees or family members to avoid the dollar limits on donations. There are also illegal corporate contributions, which can occur if a corporation reimburses a corporate officer for a campaign contribution. See, e.g., Jen Steer, “Ben Suarez trial: Son-in-law says company reimbursed two political contributions.”

        As there are no expenditure limits, there are no violations of those limits.

        As for financial contributions that circumvent the regulatory framework, it could be argued that all Super PACs and certainly all single-candidate Super PACs do that. As explained by the Center for Responsive Politics, “Single-candidate super PACs focus almost exclusively on one candidate, either by advertising in support of that candidate or attacking his or her opponents. Like other super PACs, they can raise and spend unlimited amounts of money, so they provide a convenient way for wealthy supporters to contribute large sums to bolster their favored candidate. Though super PACs are supposed to operate independently and refrain from coordinating their strategy with someone running for office, these groups are often created and run by individuals with very close ties to the candidates they support.” According to the Center, in 2014, there were 94 such single-candidate Super PACs and they raised more than $56 million and spent more than $52 million. See “2014 Outside Spending, by Single-Candidate Super PAC,” https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?chrt=V&type=C. That’s only a modest fraction of total Super PAC activity in 2014. Again according to the Center for Responsive Politics, in that election 1259 Super PACs raised more than $600 million and spent more than $345 million. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/summ.php?chrt=V&type=S. Altogether outside groups (Super PACs, politically active nonprofits, corporations, trade associations, unions, and wealthy individuals) spent more than $560 million in support of or opposition to federal candidates in 2014. https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/fes_summ.php. Although this money had to be spent “independently,” that is, not coordinated with a candidates, and some of the spending may have been intended to advance objectives not related to a specific candidate, it has to be assumed that a significant fraction of the money contributed to pay for this spending was intended to aid or oppose a candidate and thus to circumvent the limitations on donation to candidates. Candidates may legally attend and speak at Super PAC events and raise funds for Super PACs committed to supporting them provided the candidate does not ask for donations larger than $5000. Larger donations are, of course, entirely legal. See Richard Briffault, Super PACs, 96 Minn. L. Rev. 1644, 1667 (2012).

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) violation of contribution limits, 2) violation of expenditure limits, and 3) financial contributions that circumvent the regulatory framework. The objective of this question is to learn more about the local context, so please explain the cases in as much detail as relevant.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Settlement Agreement, Obama for America. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsADR/14190294785.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        2. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Settlement Agreement, Friends of Herman Cain, Inc.. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsADR/14190294064.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - MUR Michael Williams for Congress. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/13044344173.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        5. "Ex-fundraiser for U.S. Representative Grimm says not guilty of campaign violations", Bernard Vaughan, Reuters. May 5, 2014. Available at http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/05/us-usa-congress-grimm-fundraiser-idUSBREA440TL20140505

        6. "D’Souza Pleads Guilty to Violating Campaign Finance Law", Bob Van Voris, Bloomberg. May 20, 2014. Available at http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-05-20/d-souza-pleads-guilty-to-violating-contribution-laws.html

        Reviewer's sources: Tom Hays, “Democratic Fundraiser and Hotel Magnate Sant Singh Chatwal Pleads Guilty,” 6/17/2014, ($180,000 in illegal contributions), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/17/sant-singh-chatwal-guiltyn5168583.html; Alan Suderman and Ben Wieder, “Hillary Clinton 2008 Presidential Campaign Got Huge Boost From Shady Group,” 7/12/2013, (charges of more than $500,000 in straw donations over ten year period) http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/12/hillary-clinton-campaignn3582294.html; Associated Press, “Pierce O’Donnell Pleads Guilty to Illegal Edwards Donations,”8/5/2011 (more than $20,000 in illegal donations), http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/05/pierce-odonnelln919370.html; Sean Whaley and Jeff German, “Former lobbyist sentenced to 24 months for illegal campaign contributions to Reid,” 9/20/2013, ($133,400 in illegal contributions), http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/crime-courts/former-lobbyist-sentenced-24-months-illegal-campaign-contributions-reid; Jen Steer, “Ben Suarez trial: Son-in-law says company reimbursed two political contributions,” 6/5/2014, http://www.cleveland.com/court-justice/index.ssf/2014/06/bensuareztrialson-in-lawsa.html. OpenSecrets.org, "Outside spending," https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/fes_summ.php. OpenSecrets.org, “2014 Outside Spending, by Single-Candidate Super PAC,” Richard Briffault, Super PACs, 96 Minn. L. Rev. 1644, 1667 (2012).

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    Reporting and Public Disclosure

    More about category
    composite
    85
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      Reporting Requirements to the Oversight Entity
      More about category
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        21
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        YES
        In law, political parties and individual candidates report itemized contributions and expenditures both during and outside electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        Candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports on behalf of a party or candidate.) Political parties are themselves political committees engaged in campaign finance activities and subject to disclosure requirements. See 2 USC 431(4)(A),(C) (definition of “political committee”), and 2 USC 434(a)(4)(B) (reporting obligations of political committees) and 2 USC 434(e)(1) (specific reporting rules for national and congressional party committees). Reports shall include both itemized contributions and expenditures, as well as the name and mailing address of the contributor or payee, with the date and amount of the contribution or expenditure [11 CFR, §104.3 (a)(b), FECA, §434 (b)].

        National party committees must submit monthly reports both during and outside electoral campaign periods [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(4)]. State, district, or local party committees that have at least US$5,000 of aggregate receipts and disbursements for Federal election activity in a calendar year are also required to submit financial reports monthly [11 CFR, §300.36 (b)(2), (c)].

        A principal campaign committee of a presidential candidate is required to fill monthly reports if on January 1 of an election year, it received contributions or made expenditures aggregating US$100,000. Such monthly reports shall be filed no later than the 20th day after the last day of each month and shall be complete as of the last day of the month. If contributions or expenditures do not exceed US$100,000, principal campaign committees of presidential candidates only have to submit quarterly reports. Outside electoral campaign periods, they have to submit either monthly or quarterly reports. In this case, presidential campaign committees can choose to change the reporting frequency from monthly to quarterly or vice versa, provided that they notify the Federal Election Commission in writing [11 CFR, §104.5 (b), FECA, §434 (a)(3)(A)].

        Principal campaign committees of a House of Representatives or Senate candidate have to file quarterly financial reports in both election years and non-election years. In addition, during electoral campaign periods they are required to submit pre-election and post-election reports. Pre-election reports are due 12 days before the election and shall cover activity through the 20th day before the election. Post-election reports must be submitted no later than 30 days after any general election and must disclose all financial information as of the 20th day after the election [11 CFR, §104.5 (a), FECA, §434 (a)(2)]. In case a principal campaign committee of a congressional candidate receives any contribution of US$1,000 or more during the period beginning 20 days before the election and ending 48 hours before the election, it shall notify in writing the Federal Election Commission or the Secretary of the Senate, as appropriate, within 48 hours of receipt of the contribution [11 CFR, §104.5 (f), FECA, §434 (a)(6)(A)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates are required to report itemized contributions and expenditures to the oversight authority, both during and outside electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where: 1) the requirement applies for itemized contributions, but not for itemized expenditures, or 2) it applies only during the electoral campaign but not outside it. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement exists, but it only applies to one actor (whether political parties and individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §104.3 (a), (b), §104.5 (a), (b), (c), (f), §300.36 (b)(2), (c). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (a), (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reporting Dates. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates.shtml (accessed on 7 September 2014).

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        MODERATE
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a monthly basis during the electoral campaign.More about indicator

        Candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports on behalf of a party or candidate.) Political parties are themselves political committees engaged in campaign finance activities and subject to disclosure requirements. See 2 USC 431(4)(A),(C) (definition of “political committee”), and 2 USC 434(a)(4)(B) (reporting obligations of political committees) and 2 USC 434(e)(1) (specific reporting rules for national and congressional party committees).

        National party committees must report monthly in both election and non-election years [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(4)]. State, district, or local party committees that have at least US$5,000 of aggregate receipts and disbursements for Federal election activity in a calendar year are also required to submit financial reports monthly [11 CFR, §300.36 (b)(2), (c)].

        A principal campaign committee of a presidential candidate is required to fill monthly reports if on January 1 of an election year, it received contributions or made expenditures aggregating US$100,000. Such monthly reports shall be filed no later than the 20th day after the last day of each month and shall be complete as of the last day of the month. If contributions or expenditures do not exceed US$100,000, principal campaign committees of presidential candidates only have to submit quarterly reports [11 CFR, §104.5 (b), FECA, §434 (a)(3)(A)].

        Principal campaign committees of a House of Representatives or Senate candidate have to file quarterly financial reports in both election years and non-election years. In addition, during electoral campaign periods principal campaign committees of congressional candidates are required to submit pre-election and post-election reports. Pre-election reports are due 12 days before the election and shall cover activity through the 20th day before the election. Post-electoral reports must be submitted no later than 30 days after any general election and must disclose all financial information as of the 20th day after the election [11 CFR, §104.5 (a), FECA, §434 (a)(2)]. In case a principal campaign committee of a congressional candidate receives any contribution of US$1,000 or more during the period beginning 20 days before the election and ending 48 hours before the election, it shall notify in writing the Federal Election Commission or the Secretary of the Senate, as appropriate, within 48 hours of receipt of the contribution [11 CFR, §104.5 (f), FECA, §434 (a)(6)(A)].


        Peer reviewer comment: If it were possible, this should be scored somewhere between MODERATE and YES . As the research comment explains, monthly reports are required of presidential candidates and political party committees. Although House and Senate candidates have to file only quarterly, they also have to file special pre-election and post-election reports. As most general election candidates have also had to contest a primary, that means most congressional candidates will have filed five or six reports (three quarterly, two pre-election and one post-primary-election) reports in the ten months of the calendar year before the general election, and at least three (second quarter, third quarter, and pre-election) in the four months before the election – and that could be as many as five reports if the primary is held in the summer. This is more than quarterly even if less than monthly.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report monthly their financial information to the oversight authority during the electoral campaign.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a quarterly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §104.5 (a), (b), (f), §300.36 (b)(2), (c). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (a)(2), (3), (6). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reporting Dates. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates.shtml (accessed on 7 September 2014).

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        Score
        YES
        In law, political parties and individual candidates are required to report their financial information on a quarterly basis outside of electoral campaign periods.More about indicator

        Candidates are not themselves directly involved in political financing activities, but such activities are carried out through political committees which are in charge of raising campaign funds, receiving campaign contributions, making campaign expenditures and filling financial reports on behalf of a party or candidate.) Political parties are themselves political committees engaged in campaign finance activities and subject to disclosure requirements. See 2 USC 431(4)(A),(C) (definition of “political committee”), and 2 USC 434(a)(4)(B) (reporting obligations of political committees) and 2 USC 434(e)(1) (specific reporting rules for national and congressional party committees).

        National party committees must submit monthly reports both during and outside electoral campaign periods [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(4)]. State, district, or local party committees that have at least US$5,000 of aggregate receipts and disbursements for Federal election activity in a calendar year are also required to submit financial reports monthly [11 CFR, §300.36 (b)(2), (c)].

        Principal campaign committees of presidential candidates are required to fill either monthly or quarterly financial reports outside electoral campaign periods. In this case, presidential campaign committees can choose to change the reporting frequency from monthly to quarterly or vice versa, provided that they notify the Federal Election Commission in writing [11 CFR, §104.5 (b)(2), FECA, §434 (a)(3)(B)].

        Principal campaign committees of a House of Representatives or Senate candidate have to submit quarterly financial reports in both election years and non-election years [11 CFR, §104.5 (a), FECA, §434 (a)(2)(B)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where political parties and individual candidates must report quarterly their financial information to the oversight authority outside of electoral campaign periods.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the requirement exists on a yearly basis. A MODERATE score is also earned where the requirement only applies to one actor (whether political parties or individual candidates).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §104.5 (a), (b), (c), §300.36 (b)(2), (c). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (a)(2)(B), (3)(B). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 7 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reporting Dates. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/info/report_dates.shtml (accessed on 7 September 2014).

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        75
        In practice, to what extent do political parties and individual candidates report itemized financial information monthly?More about indicator

        During the election campaign period, the principal campaign committees of presidential candidates with contributions and expenditures exceeding US$100,000 have to submit monthly reports to the Federal Election Commission, otherwise they only have to file quarterly reports. Additionally, they submit a pre-election, a post-election and a year-end report (see Sources 1, 2 and 8). For the last presidential elections that were held on 6 November 2012, the principal campaign committees of major parties’ presidential candidates Barack Obama (Democratic Party) and Mitt Romney (Republican Party) filed monthly reports covering the period from 1 January to 30 September 2012. They also submitted a pre-election report no later than 25 October 2012, a post-election report on 6 December 2012 and a year-end report on 31 January 2013 (see Sources 1 and 2). Gary Johnson, the presidential candidate of the Libertarian Party, filed financial reports with the same frequency as the two major party candidates (see Source 3). On the other hand, the principal campaign committee of the Green Party candidate, Jill Stein submitted a late quarterly report on 4 May 2012, covering the period from 1 January to 31 March 2012. It then filed monthly reports regarding the financial activity from April till September, as well as a pre-election, a post-election and a year-end report (see Source 4).

        Candidates who participate in federal elections to the Senate or the House of Representatives submit quarterly reports on April, July and October of each calendar year, as well as a year-end report on 31 January of the following year. In election years they also submit a pre-election and a post-election report (see Source 7).

        Finally, national party committees file monthly reports plus a pre-election and a post-election report for each general election. During the 2012 election campaign period, both the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee complied with the monthly reporting frequency (see Source 5 and 6).

        Parties’ and candidates’ financial reports include both itemized contributions and expenditures incurred during the relevant reporting period. More specifically, they include receipts for all contributions, mentioning the full name, mailing address, name of employer and occupation of the contributor, the amount and date of the contribution for the reporting period and the total amount received from each contributor per year. Similarly, each report includes a list of the disbursements made during the reporting period, accompanied by the full name and mailing address of the person to whom the disbursement was made, the purpose and amount of the disbursement, and the date the disbursement was made (for example, see Sources 10, 11 and 12).

        As noted by both Mr. Brad Deutsch, former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, and Mr. Christian Hilland, FEC Deputy Press Officer, who were interviewed for the purposes of this research, there is a lot of communication between the Commission and the parties' or candidates' committees in order to make sure they eventually comply with the reporting requirements (see Sources 8 and 9). An administrative fine is imposed on the campaign committees of parties and candidates that do not submit their financial reports on time or at all (see Source 9). According to the data on administrative fines provided at the FEC website, from January 2012 until October 2014, approximately 11 committees of candidates received administrative fines, which is a very small number compared to the more than 2,432 candidates who participated in the 2012 general elections (see Source 13).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates report on their financial information monthly, and 2) the reports include both itemized contributions and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the reports are occasionally general rather than itemized or don't contain all accounts, or 2) the reporting frequency is quarterly.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) political parties and individual candidates rarely or never file reports, 2) the reports are filed but are rarely or never itemized or refer only to either contributions or expenditures, or 3) the reporting frequency is less than quarterly.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00431445 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00431171 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00495622 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Jill Stein. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00505800 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of the Democratic National Committee. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/disclosure/committeeDetail.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of the Republican National Committee. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/disclosure/committeeDetail.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2014 Candidate Summary. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/CandidateSummary.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        8. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        9. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        10. Federal Election Commission Official Website - October 2012 Report of the Principal Campaign Committee of the Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/539/12940026539/12940026539.pdf#navpanes=0 (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        11. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Pre-election Report of the Principal Campaign Committee of the Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandCmteFilingsPDFDownload.do?imageNumber=12961107490&pdfURL=docquery.fec.gov/pdf/490/12961107490/12961107490.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        12. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Republican National Committee, August 2014 Monthly Report. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/868/14970682868/14970682868.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        13. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Administrative Fines. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/AdminFine.do?format=html (accessed on 7 October 2014).

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        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent do financial reports by political parties and individual candidates include all types of contributions?More about indicator

        The financial reports of political parties' and candidates' campaign committees include an itemized list of contributions received during the relevant reporting period. In addition to cash contributions, parties’ and candidates’ committees report any donation of goods, services or property as in-kind contributions (for example, see Sources 2, 3 and 4). The value of goods (such as facilities, equipment, office supplies or mailing lists) is calculated on the basis of the price the item or facility would cost if purchased or rented at the time the contribution is made. Similarly, services (such as advertising, printing or consultant services) are valued at the prevailing commercial rate at the time the services are rendered (see Sources 9 and 10). For each itemized contribution – whether in cash or in kind – it is mentioned the full name, mailing address, name of employer and occupation of the contributor, the amount and date of the contribution for the relevant reporting period and the total amount received from each contributor per year (see Sources 2, 3 and 4).

        After a report has been filed, the Federal Election Commission performs a preliminary review in order to make sure that all funds are reported properly. In case of discrepancies, mistakes or missing information, the Commission requests parties and candidates to make the necessary corrections and/or clarifications (see Source 1). For instance, the Commission sent a note to the Republican National Committee, requesting that the February 2012 monthly report be amended in order to clarify the nature of certain contributions from individuals (see Source 8). In two other cases, the Commission requested the principal campaign committees of the presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Barack Obama respectively to itemize certain in-kind contributions that had been included in their initial reports and add their value to the receipts and disbursements total (see Sources 5 and 6). Therefore, even in case a reporting committee initially fails to itemize in-kind contributions or specify the identity of a contributor, it eventually submits an amended report in order to comply with the Commission's requests (see for example Sources 10 and 11).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The requirement for personal information – names and addresses – for individual donors applies only to a donor who gives at least $200 in the aggregate to the relevant political committee. See 2 U.S.C. § 434(b)(3). The identification required of such donors also includes occupation and name of employer. 11 CFR 100.12.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) reports include an itemized list of all contributions indicating their type (in-kind, cash where allowed, etc.) and amount (estimated value for in-kind contributions), and 2) contain donors' names and addresses (or other personal identifier).

        A 50 score is earned where only one of the two conditions listed in the 100 criteria is met.

        A 0 score is earned where neither condition is met.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - October 2012 Report of the Principal Campaign Committee of the Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/539/12940026539/12940026539.pdf#navpanes=0 (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - 2012 Pre-election Report of the Principal Campaign Committee of the Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/fecviewer/CandCmteFilingsPDFDownload.do?imageNumber=12961107490&pdfURL=docquery.fec.gov/pdf/490/12961107490/12961107490.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Republican National Committee, August 2014 Monthly Report. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/868/14970682868/14970682868.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Request for Additional Information regarding the September 2012 monthly report of the principal campaign committee of the presidential candidate Barack Obama, point 3. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/464/12330014464/12330014464.pdf#navpanes=0 (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Request for Additional Information regarding the 2012 amended post-general report of the principal campaign committee of the presidential candidate Mitt Romney, point 2. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/634/13330021634/13330021634.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Request for Additional Information regarding the 2012 February monthly report of the Republican National Committee. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/pdf/634/13330021634/13330021634.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2013).

        8. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Political Party Committees, August 2013, p. 11-12. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/partygui.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        9. Federal Election Commission - Campaign Guide for Congressional Candidates and Committees, June 2014, p. 95-96. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pdf/candgui.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        10. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Barack Obama. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00431445 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        11. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Reports of Principal Campaign Committee of Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00431171 (accessed on 13 September 2014).

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      Availability of Electoral Campaigns' Financial Information to the Public
      More about category
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        26
        Score
        YES
        In law, financial information from political parties and individual candidates must be available to the public.More about indicator

        Section 438a (a) of the FECA stipulates that "the Federal Election Commission shall maintain a central site on the Internet to make accessible to the public all publicly available election-related reports and information". The Commission shall, as soon as practicable, post on the Internet any information received and it shall promulgate standards to be used by vendors to develop software that allows publication of the financial information on the Internet immediately upon receipt [FECA, §434 (a)(12)(D)]. The law also states that the Commission shall "within 48 hours after the time of the receipt of reports and statements filed with it, make them available for public inspection, and copying, at the expense of the person requesting such copying" [FECA, §438 (a)(4)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where in law financial information of political parties and individual candidates must be made available to the public, whether online or digitally within two days of request.

        A MODERATE score is earned where financial information must be made available to the public, but no requirement exists regarding cost, format or number of days within which it must be made available.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (a)(12)(D), §438 (a)(4), §438a (a). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 8 September 2014).

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        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent can citizens easily access the financial information of all political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        Campaign finance reports and detailed financial information of candidates and political party committees are available on the Federal Election Commission’s official website. As mentioned on the FEC’s website and confirmed by the interviewed sources, the relevant data is made available to the public within maximum 48 hours from the receipt of the report, while reports filed electronically are available on the web almost instantaneously (see Sources 1, 2 and 6). Financial reports can be downloaded in various formats, such as JSON, CSV, XML and PDF. These reports contain itemized accounts of contributions and expenditures in excess of $200 and debts and obligations owed to or by the candidate or committee. They also include the names, addressed and principal place of business of contributors, as well as the date, type and amount of contributions (see Source 4).

        In particular, the FEC’s website provides for a Disclosure Data Search function that enables retrieve both paper and electronically filed reports of party committees and candidates who participated in presidential or congressional campaigns. All monthly and quarterly reports of presidential and congressional candidates can be accessed online and downloaded (see Source 5). In addition, candidate financial summaries by election cycle are available for download as ZIP files (see Source 3).

        Finally, it is worth mentioning that an Evaluation Report on the USA Transparency of Party Funding conducted by the Group of States Against Corruption found that “while all this information is made publicly available, the vast quantity of information can, in practice, make it difficult and time-consuming to conduct analyses and identify problematic issues relating to political financing” (see Source 7).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online, 2) it can be obtained digitally within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily digital or in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Files by Election Cycle. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/ftpsum.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Campaign Finance Reports and Data. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/disclosure.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Campaign Finance Disclosure Data Search. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/disclosuredatasearch.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Quick Answers to Disclosure Questions. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/ans/answers_disclosure.shtml (accessed on 5 September 2014)

        7. Group of States against corruption (GRECO), Evaluation Report on the United States of America Transparency of Party Funding, section 141. Available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3(2011)2USATwo_EN.pdf

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        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent is financial information published in a standardized format?More about indicator

        All campaign finance reports and financial information of candidates and political party committees are available at the Federal Election Commission’s official website in various formats, such as JSON, CSV, XML, XSD, TXT and PDF (see Sources 1 and 2). The Commission's website also contains raw data files for all electronically filed reports in .FEC format (see Source 1). These reports contain itemized accounts of contributions and expenditures and debts and obligations owed to or by the candidate or committee. They also include the full name, mailing address, name of employer and occupation of each contributor, the amount, type and date of each contribution for the relevant reporting period and the total amount received from each contributor per year (see Source 4).

        More specifically, the FEC’s website provides for a Disclosure Data Search function that enables retrieve both paper and electronically filed reports of party committees and candidates who participated in presidential or congressional campaigns (see Source 4). All types of reports of presidential and congressional candidates, including itemized records and summary files can be accessed online and downloaded either in CSV or XML formats (see Source 5). In addition, candidate financial summaries by election cycle are available for download as TXT files that can be further analyzed and compared using MS Access (see Source 3). Detailed files about candidates and political parties can also be downloaded in the same format (see Source 6). Finally, reports and financial information of parties and candidates can be accessed through the Commission’s Disclosure Data Catalog, in XSD, CSV and XML formats (see Source 7).

        Any committee that receives contributions or makes expenditures exceeding US$50,000 per calendar year must submit its reports electronically and complete a standardized form. Mandatory electronic filing rules do not apply to Senate candidate committees who submit their reports to the Secretary of the Senate. These reports are submitted to the Commission in a PDF format and the data included in the reports must be hand-entered into the interactive online system (see Source 8).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where financial information for all political parties and individual candidates is available to the public in a standardized format.

        A 50 score is earned where only part of the information is published in a standardized format. A 50 score is also earned where the information is standardized, but it doesn't cover all political parties and individual candidates.

        A 0 score is earned where financial information is not available in a standardized format.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Files by Election Cycle. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/ftpsum.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014)

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Disclosure Data Search. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/disclosuredatasearch.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014)

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Downloadable Data Files. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/ftp_download.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Detailed Files About Candidates, Parties and Other Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/finance/disclosure/ftpdet.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Disclosure Data Catalog. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/DataCatalog.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        8. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Electronic Filling Overview. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/elecfil/ef_overview.shtml (accessed on 6 October 2014).

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        Score
        100
        In practice, to what extent do mainstream journalism media outlets use political finance data in their reporting?More about indicator

        Political finance data is frequently used by news outlets as part of their reporting and analysis (see Source 1). For the 2012 presidential elections, The New York Times developed a special section on campaign funding, comparing candidates’ and parties’ contributions and expenditures through figures and charts based on information by the Federal Election Commission. It also used data provided by the Commission in order to track and rank on a week-by-week basis independent campaign expenditures made in favor or against the Democratic and Republican presidential candidates (see Source 2). Similarly, The Washington Post used officially published campaign finance data to develop an online 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer, with charts and graphs comparing the amount of funds raised and spent by the two major Presidential candidates, and listing the top 100 contributors to Super PACs that made independent expenditures in favor or against the presidential candidates (see Source 4). A 2012 Campaign Explorer was also provided by the CNN including a map with information on the money raised and spent by the Democratic and Republican parties and candidates on a state and county level during the presidential campaign (see Source 3).

        In addition, based on campaign finance reports submitted to the Commission and an analysis of contributions to super PACs, presidential campaigns, political parties and joint-fundraising committees, the Associated Press ranked and published information on the top five contributors to the Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney (see Source 5). With regard to the 2014 Senate elections, the Wall Street Journal released an article on the highest Super PACs’ independent expenditures and electioneering communications in support of Senate candidates, using data published by the Commission and the findings of an analysis on political spending conducted by the nonpartisan Wesleyan Media Project (see Source 6).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three independent mainstream journalism media outlets have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their reporting.

        A 50 score is earned where one independent mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        A 0 score is earned where no mainstream journalism media outlet has used officially published financial information as part of its reporting.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity / "Consider the Source" project leader, 26 August 2014.

        2. The New York Times - The 2012 Money Race: Compare the Candidates. Available at: http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/campaign-finance

        3. CNN Campaign Explorer. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/ELECTION/2012/campaign-tracker/

        4. The Washington Post - 2012 Presidential Campaign Finance Explorer. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/special/politics/campaign-finance/

        5. "Money men: Who are the biggest donors to Mitt Romney's presidential campaign?", The Associated Press, 19 October 2012. Available at: http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/money-men-top-5-donors-romney-article-1.1187517

        6. "Super PAC Funding Keeps Democrats Competitive in Senate Races", by Rebecca Ballhaus and Brody Mullins, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 19 September 2014. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/articles/super-pac-funding-keeps-democrats-competitive-in-senate-races-1411169413

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        0
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws?More about indicator

        There were several news reports and Federal Election Commission cases of violation or abuse of the campaign finance law during the most recent 2012 and 2010 federal elections.

        Many of these cases were related to violations of the reporting and disclosure requirements by political committees. For example, an administrative fine was imposed to “Garcia for Congress”, a principal campaign committee of a congressional candidate, who failed to file 48-hour notices with the Commission for contributions of US$150,000 received within the 20 days preceding the 2012 Primary Election (see Source 4). In another case, the Commission found that the principal campaign committee of congressional candidate Rob Zerban failed to disclose US$438,683 in disbursements on its original 2012 pre-election report (see Source 3). The Commission also imposed administrative fines to 17 PACs that failed to submit or timely submit their 2012 post-election reports (see Source 2).

        In the case of Taxpayer Network, a non-profit organization formed under Section 501 (c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code, the Commission found that the nonprofit did not comply with the legal requirement to file electioneering communication reports disclosing two television advertisements in favor of a candidate to the 2010 Senate elections and provide sufficient disclaimers for the communications (see Source 1).

        In addition, there were news reports about a Republican member of the House of Representatives facing criminal charges for possible campaign finance violations in relation to his 2010 election campaign. In particular, Michael Grimm was accused for soliciting and accepting prohibited campaign contributions, including contributions from foreign nationals (see Source 6). A few months later Diana Durand, a former fundraiser for his 2010 campaign admitted to the Court that she channeled illegal contributions to two candidates for the House of Representatives in 2010 with the help of straw donors (see Source 7).

        Finally, another case of campaign finance violation involved Dinesh D'Souza, an author and filmmaker who admitted that he made illegal contributions in the names of others to support the 2012 campaign of the Republican Senate candidate Wendy Long. According to the prosecutors, D'Souza asked two friends and their spouses to contribute US$10,000 each to Long's campaign committee and then reimbursed them (see Source 5).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of violation or abuse of political finance laws during the most recent national election.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Conciliation Agreement between the FEC and the Taxpayer Network. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/14044353947.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Administrative Fines to PACs for failure to file 2012 post-general reports. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsAF/14092694062.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Conciliation Agreement between the FEC and Rob Zerban for Congrees. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/14044351194.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Administrative Fine to Garcia for Congress. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsAF/14092694869.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        5. "Anti-Obama author D'Souza pleads guilty to campaign finance violation", by Joseph Ax, REUTERS, 20 May 2014. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/05/20/us-usa-politics-dsouza-idUSBREA4J0H520140520

        6. "Michael Grimm Surrenders On Federal Charges, Prosecutors Say", by Tom Hays, THE HUFFINGTON POST, 28 April 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/28/michael-grimm-chargesn5225715.html

        7. "Ex-fundraiser for US Rep. Grimm pleads guilty to campaign violations", by Bernard Vaughan, REUTERS, 3 September 2014. Available at: http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/09/03/us-usa-politics-newyork-grimm-idUSKBN0GY2A420140903

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        100
        In practice, to what extent were there no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying?More about indicator

        The research found no evidence of vote-buying during the 2012 federal elections. As pointed out by Mr. Sam Garrett, an expert interviewed for the purposes of this research, vote-buying in the United States context is rare and occasional (see Source 1). In addition, a survey list experiment conducted by academics Ahlquist, Mayery and Jackmanz found no evidence of vote buying during the 2012 federal elections, even in the States most contested in the Presidential campaign (see Source 2).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where there were no news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 50 score is earned where there were news reports or other documented incidents of no more than two cases of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        A 0 score is earned where there were frequent news reports or other documented incidents of vote-buying during the most recent national election.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Sam Garrett, Ph.D., Specialist in American National Government, 16 September 2014.

        2. Fraudulent Votes, Voter Identification and the 2012 US General Election: evidence from a survey list experiment. John S. Ahlquist, Kenneth R. Mayery, Simon Jackmanz, (preliminary draft) 27 April 2013. Available at: http://users.polisci.wisc.edu/behavior/Papers/AhlquistMayerJackman2013.pdf

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        100
        In practice, to what extent do civil society organizations use political finance data?More about indicator

        Several civil society organizations use political finance data as part of their work to increase transparency, track the influence of money in politics and/or advocate for political finance reforms. For example, the Sunlight Foundation maintains a database called “Influence Explorer”, which includes overview and detailed political finance information at both state and federal levels. The raw political finance data released by the Federal Election Commission is further processed and standardized by the Sunlight Foundation in order to compile the database. Apart from charts and graphs, detailed records are available for download (see Source 1).

        The Center for Responsive Politics is another civil society organization compiling political finance data to provide information on the money raised and spent in relation to electoral campaigns by political parties and candidates, PACs, individuals and organizations (see Source 2). Furthermore, the Campaign Finance Institute uses officially published political finance data to produce tables and figures of campaign contributions and expenditures by presidential or congressional candidates, political parties, PACs and individuals (see Source 5). Information on federal candidates’ contributions and expenditures at the state level is provided by The National Institute on Money in State Politics (see Source 4).

        Furthermore, the Center for Public Integrity collected and published overview political finance information about the major PACs, individual donors and nonprofit groups that engaged in political campaign activities during the 2011-2012 election cycle, indicating also a transparency grade for each group (see Sources 3 and 6).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where at least three civil society organizations have used officially published political party or individual candidate financial information as part of their advocacy or awareness work.

        A 50 score is earned where one civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its advocacy or awareness work.

        A 0 score is earned where no civil society organization has used officially published financial information as part of its work.

        Sources
        1. The Sunlight Foundation Influence Explorer. Available at: http://realtime.influenceexplorer.com

        2. Center for Responsive Politics. Available at: http://www.opensecrets.org/elections/

        3. The Center for Public Integrity: "Consider the Source" Project. Available at: http://www.publicintegrity.org/politics/consider-source

        4. National Institute on Money in State Politics: Follow the Money. Available at: http://followthemoney.org/national-overview

        5. The Campaign Finance Institute. Available at: http://www.cfinst.org/federal.aspx

        6. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity / "Consider the Source" project leader, 26 August 2014.

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        --
        Open Question: Have there been political finance legal reforms or reform bills presented to the legislature in the last 10 years?More about indicator

        There have been no substantial legal reforms in the area of political finance since 2002 when the Congress passed the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act which established limits on contributions to political parties and candidates from individuals and PACs, banned soft money ( a term for "funds generally believed to influence federal elections but not regulated under federal election law") and defined political advertising purchased by corporations or unions as "electioneering communications" (see Sources 2 and 3).

        In 2014, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act abolished public funding of national nominating conventions for presidential elections and the money previously used to finance national party conventions was transferred to the “10-Year Pediatric Research Initiative Fund” (see Source 4). As pointed out by Dr. Anthony Corrado, Specialist in Political Finance who was interviewed for the purposes of this research, by passing this Act, political parties – especially the Republicans – avoided criticism for using taxpayer money for the national conventions while their candidates do not accept public funding for their presidential campaigns (see Source 1).

        On the other hand, crucial changes have occurred in campaign finance jurisprudence since 2010. One of the most important changes was introduced by the 2010 ruling on Citizens United v. FEC, where the Supreme Court held that independent campaign expenditures and political broadcasts made by corporations cannot be restricted, as that would violate the constitutional right to freedom of speech. This decision allows corporations to make unlimited independent expenditures and electioneering communications that explicitly advocate in favor or against the election of a candidate (see Source 8). Furthermore, in another decision SpeechNow.org v. FEC held that PACs that make only independent expenditures can receive unlimited contributions. This opened the door to the formation of Super PACs or Independent Expenditure-Only Committees that cannot make direct contributions to political parties and candidates, but are allowed to raise and spend unlimited funds on independent expenditures and electioneering communications (see Source 9). Another major change occurred following a 2011 Court ruling on Carey v. FEC that allowed PACs to operate two banks accounts, one for the unlimited super PAC funds and another for the limited traditional PAC funds (see Source 6). As a result, Hybrid PACs or committees that maintain a non-contribution account emerged. In addition, the 2014 Supreme Court ruling McCutcheon v. FEC ruled that the aggregate limits on the amount an individual may contribute during a two-year period to all federal candidates, parties and political action committees combined were unconstitutional for violating free speech rights (see Source 7).

        No law has been passed yet to address the new types of PACs that emerged after the court rulings mentioned above and these issues are temporarily regulated by FEC guidelines until further legislative action is taken (see Source 6).

        As a response to the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. FEC, the DISCLOSE Act was sponsored by a group of Democrats and introduced to the Congress in 2010. This bill aimed to prohibit foreign influence in Federal elections, prohibit government contractors from making expenditures with respect to such elections, and establish additional disclosure requirements with respect to campaign spending by corporations, unions and other interest groups. Although the bill passed the House of Representatives, it was opposed by Republican Senators and was not eventually approved by the Senate (see Sources 1, 5 and 10). Since then, Democrats have continuously attempted to pass the DISCLOSE Act, but the bill was always blocked by the Republicans. In particular, Republicans have argued that the bill would “silence the free speech of Congress's critics” and “accused Democrats of crafting it to favor labor unions -traditionally Democratic allies - over other types of donors” (see Sources 10 and 11).

        Peer Reviewer 1: Agree. Several other bills have to introduced in Congress in the past two election cycles to change the nation’s campaign finance laws. Among the most prominent of these are the Fair Elections Now Act, which would substantially alter the spending caps and thresholds in the presidential public financing system; legislation to abolish the presidential public financing system entirely; and a proposed amendment to the constitution which would overturn the Citizens United v. FEC decision.

        Fair Elections Now Act,” Brennan Center for Justice, January 15, 2013. Available at http://www.brennancenter.org/legislation/fair-elections-now-act. “Cole Calls for End to Taxpayer Funding for Presidential Candidates.” Office of U.S. Rep. Tom Cole, December 2, 2011. Available at https://cole.house.gov/cole-calls-end-taxpayer-funding-presidential-candidates. “McGovern Introduces Two Constitutional Amendments to Overturn Citizens United.” Office of U.S. Rep. James McGovern, January 22, 2013. Available at http://mcgovern.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/mcgovern-introduces-two-constitutional-amendments-to-overturn-citizens.

        Peer Reviewer 2: Agree. Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United invalidating the prohibition on the use of corporate and union treasury funds for independent spending and electioneering communications, Congress considered various proposals to improve disclosure concerning such spending including the donors of the funds for the expenditures. The most prominent of these was the DISCLOSE Act which passed the House of Representatives on June 24, 2010, by a 219-206 vote. On July 27, 2010, however, the Senate, however, by a vote of 57-41 failed to invoke cloture – that is, to terminate debate -- with respect to the Senate version of the bill; and failed again by a vote of 59-39 on September 23, 2010. Under Senate rules, sixty votes are needed for cloture. Three similar versions of the DISCLOSE Act were introduced in the next Congress and on March 29, 2012 the Senate Committee on Rules and Administration held a hearing on it. The Senate subsequently debated and an amended version but again, by a vote of 53-45, failed to invoke cloture. A companion bill was introduced in the House but failed to get out of committee. A similar bill was introduced in the 2013-14 Congress but again failed to advance. In 2014, Senate committees held hearings on the enforcement of campaign finance law and on a proposed constitutional amendment that would permit Congress and the states to regulate money in federal elections. (See Source 3) On September 11, 2014, the Senate by a 54-42 failed to invoke cloture on the proposed amendment. https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/senate-joint-resolution/19. Another measure considered by Congress in 2013-14 but not acted on would have prohibited the reporting of certain political expenditures or contributions as a condition of the government contracting process, Several bills have been introduced in the last several Congresses both to repeal all or part of the presidential public financing program and, on the other hand, to expand public financing by making it available for candidates for Congress.

        R. Sam Garrett, “Proposals to Eliminate Public Financing of Presidential Campaigns,” Congressional Research Service, Jan. 8, 2014, http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41604.pdf; Public Campaign, “Fair Elections Now Act,” http://www.publicampaign.org/fair-elections-now-act. Neither has made much progress in Congress.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please list and describe all documented instances of: 1) political finance reforms, including bills passed, executive orders signed, court rulings and any other legal act that had a direct effect on existent political finance regulation, and 2) all legal reform attempts presented to the legislature even if they were not approved. Please describe the political context that produced the reforms or reform attempts.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Sam Garrett, Ph.D., Specialist in American National Government, 16 September 2014.

        3. "The State of Campaign Finance Policy: Recent Developments and Issues for Congress", R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service Report, 23 June 2014. Available at: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41542.pdf

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Laws and Regulations. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/law.shtml (accessed on 20 September 2014).

        5. Open Congress - DISCLOSE Act. Available at: http://www.opencongress.org/bill/hr5175-111/show

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - FEC Statement on Carey v. FEC. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/20111006postcarey.shtml (accessed on 20 September 2014).

        7. McCutcheon, et al. v. Federal Election Commission, U.S. 12-536. U.S. (2014). Case summary and final judgment available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/McCutcheon.shtml (accessed on 20 September 2014).

        8. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 08-205 (2010). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/litigation/cusc08opinion.pdf (accessed on 20 September 2014).

        9. "Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress", by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service Report, 4 April 2013. Available at: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42042.pdf

        10. " Senate Democrats again fail to pass campaign disclosure law", by Dan Eggen, THE WASHINGTON POST, 23 September 2010. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/09/23/AR2010092304578.html

        11. "Senate Republicans block DISCLOSE Act for second straight day", by Ted Barrett, CNN , 18 July 201. Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2012/07/17/politics/senate-disclose-act/

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    Third Party Actors

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      Applicability of the Law to Third-Party Actors
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        MODERATE
        In law, third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority and the information is made publicly available.More about indicator

        Political action committees (PACs) are required to submit financial reports to the Federal Election Commission both during and outside electoral campaign periods. These reports must include both itemized contributions and expenditures. More specifically, contributions from an individual need to be itemized when their total exceeds US$200 per calendar year. In this case, the report must include the full name, address, employer and occupation of the contributor, as well as the date and amount of the contribution. All contributions from committees, including committees which do not qualify as political committees, must also be itemized regardless of amount [11 CFR, §104.3(a)(4)]. In addition, the law requires that the reports include the full name and address of each person to whom an expenditure in an aggregate amount or value exceeding $200 within the calendar year is made by the reporting committee, together with the date, amount, and purpose of the expenditure [11 CFR, §104.3(b)(3)(i)]. Charitable contributions and loans received by the PACs should also be itemized [11 CFR §104.3(b)(1)].

        During an election year, PACs are required to file three quarterly reports, due respectively on April 15, July 15, and October 15. The report for the final calendar quarter of the year shall be filed on January 31 of the following calendar year [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(1)]. Furthermore, any PAC that makes contributions or expenditures in relation to a primary or general election is required to submit a pre-election report if such disbursements have not been previously disclosed. Pre-election reports shall be filed no later than 12 days before any primary or general election and shall disclose all receipts and disbursements as of the 20th day before a the election [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(1)(ii)]. The law also requires that a post-election report including itemized contributions and expenditures as of the 20th day after the election be filed no later than 30 days after any general election [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(1)(iii)]. Alternatively, a PAC can opt for filing monthly reports no later than 20 days after the last day of each month. In this case, it must also submit a pre-election and a post-election report for each general election, and a year-end report no later than January 31 of the following calendar year [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(3)]. Outside electoral campaign periods, a PAC that filed quarterly reports in an election year automatically switches to semi-annual reports. In particular, the law states that “the first report shall cover January 1 through June 30, and shall be filed no later than July 31, and the second report shall cover July 1 through December 31, and shall be filed no later than January 31 of the following year [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)(2)]. A PAC that submitted monthly reports during electoral campaign periods shall continue submitting monthly reports in non-election years, unless it notifies the FEC in writing of its decision to change the reporting frequency to semi-annually. The filing frequency cannot be changed more than once per calendar year [11 CFR, §104.5 (c)].

        In addition, the law stipulates that every person, group of persons or organization, other than a political committee, who makes independent expenditures in an aggregate amount or value exceeding US$250 during a calendar year shall file a statement or report for all contributions received. This report shall include the name, mailing address, occupation and employer of each contributor, together with the date and amount of the contribution. The same information must be provided about any person who received a disbursement of more than US$200 in connection with an independent expenditure by the reporting person. Such report shall also indicate whether the independent expenditure was made in support of, or in opposition to, the candidate involved. Financial reports must be submitted for any quarterly period during which any independent expenditure exceeding US$250 in total is made and in the following quarterly reporting period during the same year in which additional independent expenditures of any amount are made [11 CFR, §109.10 (b), FECA, §434 (c)].

        The law also states that every person who makes a disbursement for the direct costs of producing and airing electioneering communications in an aggregate amount in excess of US$10,000 during any calendar year shall, within 24 hours of each disclosure date, file a statement with the FEC [11 CFR, §104.20 (b), FECA, §434 (f)].

        All the reports and statements mentioned above shall be made accessible to the public on the FEC's website [FECA, §434 (a)(12)(D), §438a].

        Different types of other organizations that do not necessarily qualify as PACs under the FECA may also engage in political financing. This is the case of certain tax-exempt organizations regulated by section 527 of the Internal Revenue Code, including political parties, committees, associations, funds, or other organizations (whether or not incorporated) organized and operating primarily for the purpose of directly or indirectly accepting contributions or making expenditures in order to influence the outcome of an election [Internal Revenue Code, §527 (e)(1), (2)]. According to section 527 (j)(2) of the Internal Revenue Code, these organizations must submit two semi-annual reports in non-election years and three quarterly reports during election years, as well as a pre-election and a post-election report. Alternatively, they can file monthly reports plus a pre-election, a post-election and a year-end report. However, only these “527 organizations” that qualify as political committees are obliged to file reports to the Federal Election Commission, while the others have to submit their reports to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The law further states that reports shall include the amount, date, and purpose of each expenditure made to a person, together with his name and address if the aggregate amount of expenditures to such person during the calendar year is at least US$500. They must also include “the name and address (in the case of an individual, including the occupation and name of employer of such individual) of all contributors which contributed an aggregate amount of US$200 or more to the organization during the calendar year and the amount and date of the contribution” [Internal Revenue Code, §527 (j)(3)]. These reports shall be made available for public inspection on the Internet not later than 48 hours after they have been submitted [Internal Revenue Code, §527 (k), §6104 (a)].

        Last but not least, political campaign activities are also performed by certain non-profit and tax-exempt organizations regulated by section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, including social welfare organizations, labor organizations, foundations and chambers of commerce. In order to keep their tax-exempt status, these organizations must be primarily engaged in activities that further their exempt purposes. However, they are also allowed to engage in other activities, including political campaign activities, provided that those are limited in comparison to their primary activities [Internal Revenue Code, §501 (h)]. These organizations have to report their political spending to the IRS, as well as the names and addressed of donors who contribute more than US$5,000 in a year [Internal Revenue Code, §6033]. However, the donor information is considered tax information and cannot be made public by the IRS [Internal Revenue Code, §6103].


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The difference between PACs that have to register with and report their contributions and expenditures to the FEC and other third party participants that are not subject to those requirements is that a PAC subject to FEC regulation must have the “major purpose,” Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 79 (1976) of affecting the election of a candidate for federal office. Other organizations that engage some federal electoral activity but not as their major purpose do not have to register with the FEC or submit the periodic reports required of political committees. If such an organization does engage in independent expenditures above the statutory threshold, it has to report such expenditures. But unless it has received donations that are earmarked “for the purpose of furthering” such an independent expenditure, it does not have to report its donations to the FEC. See Freedom’s Watch, Inc., MUR 6002 (FEC July 8, 2010) (complaint dismissed and file closed), http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/10044274536.pdf#search=%22freedom's%22%20watch%206002 (statement of reasons of three FEC commissioners for closing the case). The term “dark money” is used colloquially to describe funds that spent by organizations, particularly the social welfare groups organized under section 501(c)(4) and the trade associations organized under section 501(c)(6). See Center for Responsive Politics, “Political Nonprofits,” https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_summ.php. It is worth noting that foundations and think tanks, if organized under section 501(c)(3) and not 501(c)(4), may not engage in any electoral activity. Both (c)(3)’s and (c)(4)’s are tax-exempt in that they do not pay taxes on the donations they receive. However contributions to a (c)(3) are deductible from the donor’s income while donations (c)(4)’s are not. 501(c)(3) organizations may not engage in electoral advocacy, although some engage in discussions of public affairs that can be seen as bordering on the electoral. 501(c)(4)’s may engage in electoral activity provided it is not their primary activity. Foundations are generally organized under 501(c)(3). See IRS, “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations,” http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501(c)(3)-Tax-Exempt-Organizations.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) third-party actors are required to report to the oversight authority itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, and 2) the information must be publicly available.

        A MODERATE score is earned where third-party actors are required to report itemized contributions received and expenditures related to their support of electoral campaigns, but the information is not required to be publicly available. A MODERATE score is also earned where regulations exist, but only apply to electoral campaigns of one actor (whether political party or individual candidate).

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) (as amended), Title 11, §104.5 (c), §104.3 (a)(4), (b)(1), (3)(i), §109.10 (b), §104.20 (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/cfr/2014cfr.pdf (accessed on 8 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §434 (a), (b), (c), (f), §438a. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 8 September 2014).

        3. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as amended), Title 26 U.S.C. §527 (e), (j), (k), §6103, §501 (c), (h), §6033. Available at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/26 (accessed on 9 September 2014)

        Reviewer's sources Freedom’s Watch, Inc., MUR 6002 (FEC July 8, 2010) (complaint dismissed and file closed), http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/10044274536.pdf#search=%22freedom's%22%20watch%206002; IRS, “The Restriction of Political Campaign Intervention by Section 501(c)(3) Tax-Exempt Organizations,” http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/The-Restriction-of-Political-Campaign-Intervention-by-Section-501(c)(3)-Tax-Exempt-Organizations. Responsive Politics, “Political Nonprofits,” https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_summ.php.

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        In practice, to what extent do third-party actors (foundations, think tanks, unions, political action committees, etc.) report itemized contributions received and expenditures to an oversight authority?More about indicator

        All political action committees (“PACs”) registered with the Federal Election Commission, including Separate Segregated Funds, Non-connected Committees, Independent Expenditure-Only Committees (or “Super PACs”), Leadership PACs and committees that maintain a non-contribution account (or “Hybrid PACs”) are considered political committees and submit either quarterly or monthly financial reports plus a pre-election, a post-election and a year-end reports during electoral campaign periods (see Source 2). All filed reports are made available to the public and can be accessed through the FEC website (see Sources 2, 3 and 5). In case a PAC fails to submit a report on time, the Commission issues a “Notice of Failure to File”, in order to make sure the PAC eventually files the missing report (see for example Source 7).

        Reports filed by PACs include both itemized contributions and expenditures. The receipt for each itemized contribution – whether in cash or in kind – includes the full name, mailing address, name of employer and occupation of the individual contributor, the amount and date of the contribution for the relevant reporting period and the total amount received from each contributor within the calendar year. In case the contributor is another political committee, the receipt also mentions the FEC identification number of the contributing committee. In addition, PACs’ reports include the full name and address of each person to whom each expenditure is made during the reporting period, together with the date, amount, and purpose of the expenditure (see for example attached documents).

        Furthermore, any individual, group, political committee, corporation or union that make independent expenditures or electioneering communications expressly advocating for the election or defeat of a clearly identified federal candidate, file 24-hour and 48-hour reports mentioning the person who made the expenditure, the purpose, date and amount of the expenditure and the candidate for or against whom the expenditure was made (see Source 4).

        Non profit organizations regulated by section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code and “527 organizations” that are not considered political committees do not report their contributions and expenditures to the Commission, unless they make independent expenditures or electioneering communications (see Sources 1 and 6). These organizations submit annual reports to the Internal Revenue Service (see Sources 6 and 8).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. Registered political action committees, including those created by corporations and unions as well as non-connected committees, are required to report both contributions and expenditures to the FEC. This includes Super PACs -- although they are not subject to donation limits they are required to report contributions and expenditures above a threshold. Non-major purpose do not have to report the contributions they receive to the FEC although they do have to report their electoral expenditures, that is, advertisements that expressly advocate the election or defeat of a clearly identified candidate (“express advocacy”), and their “electioneering communications” (broadcast ads aired within 30days before a primary or 60 days before a general election) that refer to a candidate. See 2 U.S.C. §§ 431 (17), 434(c), 434(f). As noted previously, foundations may not engage in electoral activity, nor may think tanks organized under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all third-party actors report to an oversight authority both itemized contributions received and itemized expenditures.

        A 50 score is earned where third-party actors report to an oversight authority either itemized contributions received or expenditures, but not both. A 50 score is also earned where the reports refer only to one type of third-party actor, but do not cover others.

        A 0 score is earned where third-party actors rarely or never report itemized contributions received or expenditures.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Committee Summary. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/CommitteeSummary.do?format=html&election_yr=2014 (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Independent Expenditure-Only Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/ieoc_alpha.shtml (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Independent Expenditures. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/IndependentExpenditure.do?format=html&cf=superPAC (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Leadership PACs and Sponsors. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/Leadership.do?format=html (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        6. "Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress", by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service Report, 4 April 2013. Available at: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42042.pdf

        7. Example of a PAC that failed to file a report on time. Available at: http://docquery.fec.gov/cgi-bin/fecimg/?C00547182 (accessed on 17 Septemebr 2014).

        8. IRS Official Website: Exempt Organizations Annual Reporting Requirements – Public Disclosure and Availability of Exempt Organizations Returns and Applications. Available at: http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-tege/eodisclosurefaqs.pdf

        9. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        Reviewer's sources: 2 U.S.C. §§ 431 (17), 434(c), 434(f). http://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/2/434

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        50
        In practice, to what extent can journalists and citizens easily access the financial information of third party actors, including the political spending of those actors in support of political parties and individual candidates?More about indicator

        All reports filed by political action committees (“PACs”) registered with the Federal Election Commission, including Separate Segregated Funds, Non-connected Committees, Independent Expenditure-Only Committees (or “Super PACs”), Leadership PACs and committees that maintain a non-contribution account (or “Hybrid PACs”) are made available to the public and can be accessed through the FEC website. These reports include both itemized contributions and expenditures, mentioning the full name, mailing address, name of employer and occupation of each individual contributor, the amount and date of each contribution for the relevant reporting period and the total amount received from the contributor within the calendar year. They also include the name and address of the recipient of disbursements made by the reporting PAC and the purpose of the disbursement (see Source 1).

        A data catalog of receipts and disbursements for each registered political committee, group or individual, along with a breakdown of overall receipts by source and totals for contributions to other committees is available on the FEC website. This information can be downloaded in XSD, XML, CSV and JSON formats. Each report can also be downloaded as a PDF file (see Source 1).

        A list of registered Independent Expenditure-Only Committees (“Super PACs”) is also available, where citizens can access all the filed reports (see Source 2). In addition, there is a separate database allowing to extract data and download reports submitted by Leadership PACs during an election cycle (see Source 4). Finally, the 24-hour and 48-hour reports filed by any individual, political committee, non profit organization, corporation or union that made independent expenditures expressly advocating in favor or against a federal candidate can be accessed and downloaded through an “Independent Expenditures” database (see Source 3).

        The reports submitted to the Internal Revenue Service by “527 organizations” engaging in political campaign activities are also made available to the public and can be downloaded via the IRS website. These reports are available only as PDF files and include the name, address, occupation and employer of any person that contributes in total US$200 or more in a calendar year, as well as the name and mailing address of a person to whom the 527 organization made a disbursement, and the date, amount and purpose of the disbursement (see Source 5).

        With regard to nonprofit organizations regulated by section 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, their financial reports can be accessed online through the IRS website and include a list of expenditures made for political campaign purposes. However, the names and addresses of the contributors are not made public (see Sources 5 and 6).


        Peer reviewer 1 comment: Agree. Several nongovernmental organizations compile and distribute Federal Election Commission data. These include the Center for Responsive Politics, the Sunlight Foundation, the Center for Public Integrity, and the Campaign Finance Institute.

        Peer reviewer 2 comment: Agree. Some political journalists devote considerable to learning the identities of donors to “dark money” groups and information about major donors is often reported.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) all relevant financial information is freely available online or in hard copy at the cost of photocopying, 2) it can be obtained within two days of requesting it, and 3) it is in a machine readable format (for example in csv or xml format).

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) information is available but in some cases is incomplete or lacking detail, 2) obtaining complete information takes up to a month, or 3) it's not necessarily in machine readable format.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the information is not publicly available, or 2) obtaining it takes more than three months, or 3) the cost of obtaining it is prohibitive for the regular citizen.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Committee Summary. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/CommitteeSummary.do?format=html&election_yr=2014 (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Independent Expenditure-Only Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/ieoc_alpha.shtml (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Independent Expenditures. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/IndependentExpenditure.do?format=html&cf=superPAC (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Leadership PACs and Sponsors. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/Leadership.do?format=html (accessed on 17 September 2014).

        5. IRS Official Website: Political Organization Disclosure Portal. Available at: http://forms.irs.gov/app/pod/basicSearch/search?execution=e3s1

        6. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        Reviewer 1's sources: Center for Responsive Politics, www.opensecrets.org; Sunlight Foundation, sunlightfoundation.org; Center for Public Integrity, www.publicintegrity.org; Campaign Finance Institute, www.campaignfinanceinstitute.org.

        Reviewer 2's sources: Robert Maguire and Viveca Novak, “Exclusive: Largest Dark Money Donor Groups Share Funds, Hide Links,” Sept. 10, 2103, http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/09/exclusive-largest-dark-money-donor-groups-hide-ties-using-new-trick/

        Robert Maguire, “At Least 1 in 4 Dark Money Donors in 2012 Had Koch Links,” Dec. 3, 2013, http://www.opensecrets.org/news/2013/12/1-in-4-dark-money-dollars-in-2012-c/ ; Paul Blumenthal, “It’s Time to Name the 2014 Midterms the Dark Money Election,” Sept. 4, 2014, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/09/04/dark-money-2014n5761774.html.

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        Open Question: Please describe how third party-actors (even if they are not regulated by your country's laws) obtain contributions and spend in support of political parties and/or individual candidates.More about indicator

        There are different types of political action committees (PACs) that raise funds and make direct contributions or independent expenditures in favor or against political parties and candidates, including Separate Segregated Funds, Non-connected Committees, Independent Expenditure-Only Committees (or “Super PACs”) and committees that maintain a non-contribution account (or “Hybrid PACs”). Separate Segregated Funds and Non-connected Committees are considered as traditional PACs and are not allowed to contribute to each candidate more than US$5,000 per election. After the U.S. Supreme Court 2010 decision on the case Citizens United permitting unlimited corporate and union independent expenditures, a new type of PAC emerged, called Super PACs or Independent Expenditure-Only Committees. Super PACs cannot contribute funds directly to federal candidates or parties, but they can receive unlimited contributions and make unlimited expenditures as long as these are not directly coordinated with any candidate or party (see Source 2). Furthermore, following a Court ruling on Carey v. FEC, Hybrid PACs or committees that maintain a non-contribution account emerged. These PACs can operate two banks accounts, one for the unlimited super PAC funds and another for the limited traditional PAC funds (see Source 8). There are also certain nonprofit organizations that do not necessarily qualify as PACs but in practice engage in political activities and make independent campaign expenditures. This is the case of certain tax-exempt organizations regulated by sections 527 and 501 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code, including, associations, funds, welfare organizations or unions. In order to keep their tax-exempt status, 501 (c) organizations must be primarily engaged in activities that further their exempt purposes, but they are also allowed to engage in other activities, including political campaign activities, provided that these are limited in comparison to their primary activities (see Sources 4 and 5).

        As noted by Mr. Sam Garrett, an expert interviewed for the purposes of this research, it is important to make the distinction between contributions to political parties and candidates and independent expenditures (see Source 1). In this regard, Super PACs and 527 and 501 (c) tax-exempt organizations are not allowed to make direct contributions to parties and candidates. They can however spend unlimited funds independently in support of or against a federal candidate (see Source 2). Thus, during the 2012 presidential elections Super PACs raised contributions aggregating US$826.6 million and made independent expenditures equal to US$799.2 million (see Source 2), while the Democratic candidate Barack Obama raised approximately US$715,7 million and spent US$683,5 million, and the Republican candidate Mitt Romney raised US$446,1 million and spent US$433,3 million (see Source 4). With regard to the 2013-2014 electoral cycle, according to a recent report released by the Commission the total PAC expenditures went up to US$719.3 in 2013 (see Source 7).

        Significant expenditures on electioneering communications are also made by 501 (c) organizations. For example, in light of the 2012 federal elections, the 501(c)(4) organization Crossroads GPS reported spending nearly $71 million on political advertisements, ranking among the top independent expenditure filers (see Source 5). In addition, as reported by the Wall Street Journal, after an analysis of union reports filed with the Labor Department, labor unions’ political spending appears to exceed by far their reported federal campaign and lobbying spending (see Source 3). One of the main matters of concern regarding electioneering communications by 501 (c) nonprofits is the fact that, as opposed to PACs, these groups are not required to disclose their donors (called 'dark money' by some). As noted by the Center for Responsive Politics, political spending by such groups has increased significantly since 2011, reaching a total of US$300 million during the 2012 elections. Based on spending in previous electoral cycles, the Center for Responsive Politics estimates that their total spending in relation to the 2014 elections may go up to US$730 million (see Source 9).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The research comment is only partially unresponsive to the question. It focused on the nature of the entities that spend and how much they spend. It says little about how they obtain contributions or what they spend their money on, e.g., whether on advertising or grass-roots activities.

        Scoring Criteria

        To answer this question please: 1) list the types of third-party actors that exist in your country and describe how they work to influence campaigns, 2) explain how important such actors are or not in the context of campaigns, including whether their expenditures are substantial in relation to that of political parties and individual candidates, and 3) if documented evidence indicates they circumvent laws intended to regulate political finance, please explain how and include references to the evidence.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Sam Garrett, Ph.D., Specialist in American National Government, 16 September 2014.

        2. "Super PACs in Federal Elections: Overview and Issues for Congress", by R. Sam Garrett, Congressional Research Service Report, 4 April 2013. Available at: http://fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R42042.pdf

        3. "Political Spending by Unions Far Exceeds Direct Donations", by Tom McGinty and Brody Mullins, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, 10 July 2012. Available at: http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304782404577488584031850026

        4. Center for Responsive Politics, Top PACs. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/pacs/toppacs.php

        5. The Center for Public Integrity - Consider the Source. Available at: http://www.publicintegrity.org/politics/consider-source

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Super PACs and Other Independent Expenditure Filers. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/portal/super_pacs.shtml (accessed on 19 September 2014).

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - FEC Summarizes Campaign Activity of the First 12 Months of the 2013-2014 Election Cycle. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/press2014/news_releases/20140603release.shtml (accessed on 19 September 2014).

        8. Federal Election Commission Official Website - FEC Statement on Carey v. FEC. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/press/press2011/20111006postcarey.shtml (accessed on 19 September 2014).

        9. "Dark Money Hits $50 Million, Most Still to Come", by Robert Maguire, Center for Responsive Politics, 28 August 2014. Available at: https://www.opensecrets.org/news/2014/08/dark-money-hits-50-million-most-still-to-come/; The 2014 reference is for only part of the election cycle. Final figures for the 2014 election cycle are available through the FEC website (www.fec.gov) or the Center for Responsive Politics website (www.opensecrets.org).

        10. Center for Responsive Politics, “Outside Spending in 2012,” http://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/fes_summ.php?cycle=2012.

        Reviewer's sources: Center for Responsive Politics, “Political Nonprofits: Top Donors,” https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprofdonors.php; “Political Nonprofits & Affiliates: Top Grant Recipients,” https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprofgrants.php, “2013 IRS 990 Extracts Search,’ https://www.opensecrets.org/outsidespending/nonprof_extracts.php; “The Shadow Money Trail,” https://www.opensecrets.org/news/reports/moneytrail.php.; Blair Bowie and Adam Lioz, “Billion Dollar Democracy: The Unprecedented Role of Money in the 2012 Election,” Jan. 17, 2013, http://www.demos.org/publication/billion-dollar-democracy-unprecedented-role-money-2012-elections; Daniel B. Tokaji & Renata E.B. Strause, “The New Soft Money: Outside Spending in Congressional Elections,” http://moritzlaw.osu.edu/thenewsoftmoney/wp-content/uploads/sites/57/2014/06/the-new-soft-money-WEB.pdf (2014).

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    Monitoring and Enforcement

    More about category
    composite
    71
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      Monitoring Capabilities
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        Score
        YES
        In law, political finance information is monitored by an independent oversight authority.More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission is an independent regulatory agency in charge of the administration and enforcement of the federal campaign finance law and it has exclusive jurisdiction with regard to the civil enforcement of such provisions [FECA, §437c (a)]. In this framework, the Commission has the power to collect reports, conduct investigations and hearings and report apparent violations to the appropriate law enforcement authorities [FECA, §437d (a)]. In addition, section 438 (b) of the FECA stipulates that “the Commission may conduct audits and field investigations of any political committee required to file a report”, giving priority to the verification for, and receipt and use of, any public funds received by a presidential candidate or committee. The law also states that “prior to conducting any audit, the Commission shall perform an internal review of reports filed by selected committees to determine if the reports filed by a particular committee meet the threshold requirements for substantial compliance”. If the Commission finds that a committee fails to meet the substantial compliance requirements, an affirmative vote of 4 of its members is required for the conduct of an audit and field investigation [FECA, §438 (b)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) an independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, and 2) the authority has investigation and audit powers.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the independent oversight authority is mandated to monitor political finance information, but doesn't have investigation or audit powers.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §437c (a), §437d (a), §438 (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

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        MODERATE
        In law, high-level appointments to the oversight authority are based on merit.More about indicator

        According to section 437c (a)(1) of the FECA, the Federal Election Commission is composed of 6 members appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. No more than 3 commissioners may be affiliated with the same political party. The law does not establish a public recruitment process and explicitly permits political party affiliation. Furthermore, there is no clearly defined set of qualifications and experiences that the appointed commissioners are required to meet. Section 437c (a)(3) of the FECA only states that “members shall be chosen on the basis of their experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment and shall be individuals who, at the time appointed to the Commission, are not elected or appointed officers or employees in the executive, legislative, or judicial branch of the Federal Government. Any individual who is engaging in any other business, vocation, or employment at the time of his or her appointment to the Commission shall terminate or liquidate such activity no later than 90 days after such appointment.”


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. It seems to me that if the criteria are “experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment” then on its face this seems the same as merit. Since this is a question about law, not practice, this should be scored a moderate while observing in the subsequent question that in practice merit does not necessarily play a large role.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process; and 2) appointees must be free of conflicts of interest due to personal loyalties, family connections, political party affiliations, business partners or other biases.

        A MODERATE score is earned where high-level appointments must be based on merit in a public appointment process, but the regulations don't forbid appointments involving conflicts of interest or other biases.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources

        Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §437c (a)(1), (3). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

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        0
        In practice, to what extent are high-level appointments to the oversight authority based on merit?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission comprises six members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. In practice, the nominees are selected by the leaders of the majority and minority parties in Senate, who currently represent the Democratic and Republican parties respectively. The law requires that no more than three Commissioners can be from the same party (see Source 3). Taking into account that only the Democratic and Republican parties hold seats in the Senate, this means that the Commission is bipartisan (see Source 7). As pointed out by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), this results in “party leaders nominating commissioners who further their political interests” (see Source 4). Currently, the Commission comprises three Republican members, two Democrats and one Independent appointee (see Source 3) who sides with the Democrats (see Source 1).

        There is no open public competition for the appointment of the Commissioners, but the decision to select and approve a nominee is left to the discretion of the President and the Senate respectively (see Sources 2 and 6). As noted by Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, there is no clearly defined set of qualifications and experiences used as criteria for the appointment of the Commissioners. Indeed, the law merely states that “members shall be chosen on the basis of their experience, integrity, impartiality, and good judgment” (see Source 2). In practice, in terms of academic qualifications and experiences, all six Commissioners serving at the moment hold university degrees in Law and before their appointment pursued legal careers (see Sources 1 and 8).

        Even though four of the six current members of the Commission are now serving expired terms, no action for their replacement has been taken yet (see Source 8). The remaining two Commissioners were appointed by the President in late 2013 (see Source 5). As pointed out by Dr. Anthony Corrado, Specialist in Political Finance who was interviewed for the purposes of this research, as appointments are more and more based on ideological criteria, the Senate has become more hesitant to reach an agreement for the approval of FEC nominees (see Source 1).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) there is an advertised competition and public vetting process, 2) candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed.

        A 50 score is earned where the public competition is usually advertised and the vetting process public, but exceptions exist. A 50 score is also earned where candidates with the most merit and without conflicts of interest or other biases are appointed but exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where there's rarely or never a public competition, or appointees are rarely selected on merit or without conflicts of interest or other biases.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        4. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "Reforming the Federal Election Commission". Available at: http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        5. FEC, “Two New FEC Commissioners Assume Office; Will Hold Open Meeting on October 31,” 10/28/13, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2013/news_releases/20131028release.shtml (accessed on December 11. 2014).

        6. "Obama to nominate two FEC commissioners", by Josh Hicks, THE WASHINGTON POST, 21 June 2013. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/06/21/obama-to-nominate-two-fec-commissioners/ (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        7. United States Senate Official Website - Party Division in the Senate, 1789-Present. Available at: https://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/oneitemand_teasers/partydiv.htm (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        8. Election Commission Official Website - Commissioners' Biographical Information. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/members/members.shtml (accessed on 15 September 2014).

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        MODERATE
        In law, the independence of high-level appointees is guaranteed.More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission is composed of 6 members appointed for a single staggered term of 6 years. A member of the Commission may continue serving after the expiration of his/her term until his/her successor takes office [FECA, §437c (a)(2)]. There have been twenty-four commissioners in the history of the agency and none has ever been removed. Five of them served for twenty years or more (see Source 2). There are no specific legal provisions establishing a procedure for removal or disciplinary action of the Commissioners and it is uncertain whether the President can remove a Commissioner. According to the Supreme Court ruling on Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935), Congress may limit the ability of the president to remove officers of independent regulatory commissions that wield quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial powers (see Source 3).

        The Commission has a legal mandate to investigate complaints [FECA, §437g (a)], render advisory opinions [FECA, §437f], collect reports, conduct investigations and hearings and report apparent violations to the appropriate law enforcement authorities [FECA, §437d (a)]. In this regard, section 438 (b) of the FECA stipulates that “the Commission may conduct audits and field investigations of any political committee required to file a report”, giving priority to the verification for, and receipt and use of, any public funds received by a presidential candidate or committee. The law further states that “prior to conducting any audit, the Commission shall perform an internal review of reports filed by selected committees to determine if the reports filed by a particular committee meet the threshold requirements for substantial compliance”. If the Commission finds that a committee fails to meet the substantial compliance requirements, an affirmative vote of 4 of its members is required for the conduct of an audit and field investigation [FECA, §438 (b)].


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. In Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935), the Supreme Court held that Congress may limit the ability of the president to remove officers of independent regulatory commissions that wield quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial powers. On the other hand, it is unclear that Congress has limited the president’s power to remove FEC commissioners. As the research indicates, 2 US Code 437c provides that an FEC commissioner shall serve for a six-year term. That’s more protection than many other officials – such as cabinet members – get as they have no fixed terms and serve at the pleasure of the president. This might be read as a commitment to a six-year term. Moreover, a commissioner whose term has expired may continue to serve until a replacement has been appointed – 2 USC 437c(a)(2)(B) -- but there is no explicit limitation on the president’s removal power. So, I think it is appropriate to say that it is uncertain whether the president can remove a commissioner.

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, 2) the law establishes security of tenure, and 3) removal or disciplinary actions are based on due process conducted by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A MODERATE score is earned where appointees have the authority or mandate to review cases and issue decisions, BUT one of the second two conditions mentioned in the YES criteria is not met.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §437c (a)(2), §437d (a), §437f, §437g (a), §438 (b). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

        2) FEC, “Former FEC Commissioners,” http://www.fec.gov/members/formermembers.shtml.

        3) Humphrey's Executor v. United States 295 U.S. 602 (1935). Available at: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/295/602/case.html

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        0
        In practice, to what extent is the independence of high-level appointees guaranteed?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission comprises six members appointed for a single term of six years. After the expiration of their term, Commissioners can continue serving until they are replaced. Indeed, Commissioners often continue serving for months, even years, after their term has expired (See Sources 4 and 5). For example, four of the six members of the Commission are currently serving expired terms, as one of them was appointed in 2002 and the other three in 2008. The two newest Commissioners were appointed by the President in 2013 (see Sources 5 and 6).

        There are no specific legal provisions establishing a procedure for removal or disciplinary action of the Commissioners and it is uncertain whether the President can remove a Commissioner. According to the Supreme Court ruling on Humphrey’s Executor v. United States, 295 U.S. 602 (1935), Congress may limit the ability of the president to remove officers of independent regulatory commissions that wield quasi-legislative or quasi-judicial powers (see Source 9). There have been twenty-four commissioners in the history of the agency and none has ever been removed. Five of them served for twenty years or more (see Source 10) and no Commissioner has been removed from office or disciplined during the last ten years (See Sources 2 and 3).

        Given that the Commissioners are selected by the two major political parties, the Commission is currently composed of three Republican, two Democratic members and one Independent appointee (see Sources 3 and 4) who sides with the Democrats (see Source 2). As stated by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), party leaders nominate Commissioners who promote their political interests (see Source 7). As a result, the decisions of the Commission are taken on the basis of the political affiliation of the appointed Commissioners. In this respect, Ms. Ann M. Ravel, Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, noted that the three Republican Commissioners “often vote as a bloc against pursuing important matters” (see Source 8). As pointed out by both Mr. Brad Deutsch and Dr. Anthony Corrado, due to the even number of Commissioners, tie votes cause a deadlock, thus preventing the Commission from investigating possible violations of campaign finance laws and deciding on enforcement matters (see Sources 1 and 2).


        Peer reviewer comment: Disagree and recommend a 50. It is unclear whether they are removable by the president, but doubtful that they are. No commissioner has ever been removed, although some have not been reappointed at the expiration of their term possibly for political reasons. The meaning of “without fear or favor” in this context is unclear. Appointees have not been removed, and there have not been and it is highly unlikely to be targeted salary reductions. However, the appointments process is totally political. In practice, appointees effectively represent one party or the other. They need not be subject to threats because they are appointed because of the high likelihood they will toe the party line. In other words, they are formally quite independent and even in practice unlikely to be threatened or promised rewards by the other branches of government but because of the nature of the appointments process they are unlikely to act very independently of the views of the party which recommended their appointment. The comment’s discussion of the politics involved in the confirmation of Hans van Spakovsky is not germane to the independence of those who are appointed.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where all of the following conditions are met: 1) appointees review cases and issue decisions without fear or favor from other branches of government, and 2) appointees are granted security of tenure and 3) no appointees are removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 50 score is earned where any of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees generally operate without fear or favor from other branches of government but exceptions exist, or 2) some but not all appointees are granted security of tenure, or 3) appointees are occasionally removed, disciplined or transferred without due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        A 0 score is earned where at least one of the following conditions apply: 1) appointees operate with fear or favor from other branches of government, or 2) are not granted security of tenure, or 3) are usually removed, disciplined or transferred without observing due process by a peer panel or independent oversight body.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        4. "FEC Commissioners All Serving Expired Terms Now", by Paul Blumenthal, HUFFINGTON POST, 30 April 2013. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/fec-commissioners-expired-termsn3185715.html (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        5. "Obama to nominate two FEC commissioners", by Josh Hicks, THE WASHINGTON POST, 21 June 2013. Available at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/federal-eye/wp/2013/06/21/obama-to-nominate-two-fec-commissioners/ (accessed on 15 Septemebr 2014).

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Commissioners' Biographical Information. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/members/members.shtml (accessed on 16 September 2014).

        7. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "Reforming the Federal Election Commission". Available at: http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        8. "How Not to Enforce Campaign Laws", by Ann M. Ravel (Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission), THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2 April 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/opinion/how-not-to-enforce-campaign-laws.html?smid=tw-share&assetType=opinion&_r=0 (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        9. FEC, “Former FEC Commissioners,” http://www.fec.gov/members/formermembers.shtml.

        10. Humphrey's Executor v. United States 295 U.S. 602 (1935). Available at: https://supreme.justia.com/cases/federal/us/295/602/case.html

        Reviewer's sources: Craig Holman and Lisa Gilbert, “The Partisan Federal Election Commission,” Aug. 22, 2013, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/318077-the-partisan-federal-election-commission; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “Reforming the Federal Election Commission,” (no date, but internal citation indicates it was published after April 7, 2012), http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec#fec5 David Levinthal, “How Washington Starves its Election Watchdog,” Dec. 17, 2013, http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/12/17/13996/how-washington-starves-its-election-watchdog

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        Open Question: How does decision-making work in the oversight authority?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission comprises six members appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate for a single term of six years. In practice, there is a tacit agreement that the nominees are selected by the leaders of the majority and minority parties in Senate, who currently represent the Democratic and Republican parties respectively (see Sources 1 and 4). The law requires that no more than three Commissioners can be from the same party. Taking into account that only the Democratic and Republican parties hold seats in the Senate, this means that the Commission is bipartisan, with three Republican and three Democratic appointees (see Sources 2 and 4). As pointed out by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), this results in “party leaders nominating commissioners who further their political interests” (see Source 2).

        In order to issue an advisory opinion, initiate an audit or investigation, decide on an enforcement matter or impose a sanction for violation of political finance rules, the votes of at least four of the six Commissioners are required (see Sources 1, 3 and 5). However, the Commission’s bipartisan structure in combination with the even number of members often results in tie votes, which cause deadlocks, preventing the Commission from adopting any decision (see Sources 3 and 5). In this regard, Mr. Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist at the non-profit organization Public Citizen, stated to the New York Times that according to a study the percentage of deadlocks has increased significantly following the appointment of three new Republican Commissioners in 2008. More specifically, in the five years preceding 2008, the Commission decided on 3,634 enforcement matters and split votes on 39, whereas after 2008, it reached an agreement on 866 enforcement matters and split votes on 123 of them (see Source 5).

        In this respect, Ms. Ann M. Ravel, Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, noted that the three Republican Commissioners “often vote as a bloc against pursuing important matters” (see Source 3). For example, in a recent case involving contributions to a PAC from an online currency created to be untraceable, the Commission was not able to issue an advisory opinion due to a deadlock (see Source 5). As highlighted by Ms. Ann M. Ravel, the failure of the Commission to enforce campaign finance laws may have serious consequences, including the increase of money from anonymous donors in electoral campaigns (see Source 3).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The FEC is widely considered to be dysfunctional and typically deadlocks on major issues. See sources.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please describe: 1) the composition of the decision-making body within the oversight authority, 2) the type of decisions it's allowed to make and makes in practice, and 3) in which cases majority is required. If there have been well substantiated complaints about the decision-making process being ineffective or politicized please explain.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        2. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "Reforming the Federal Election Commission". Available at: http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        3. "How Not to Enforce Campaign Laws", by Ann M. Ravel (Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission), THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2 April 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/opinion/how-not-to-enforce-campaign-laws.html?smid=tw-share&assetType=opinion&_r=0 (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        4. "FEC Commissioners All Serving Expired Terms Now", by Paul Blumenthal, HUFFINGTON POST, 30 April 2013. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/30/fec-commissioners-expired-termsn3185715.html (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        5. "Election Panel Enacts Policies by Not Acting", by Nicholas Confessore, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 August 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/us/politics/election-panel-enacts-policies-by-not-acting.html (accessed on 15 September 2014).

        Reviewer's sources: Daniel I. Weiner, “The FEC Deadlocks (Again) on Dark Money,” Aug. 1, 2014, Brennan Center for Justice, http://www.brennancenter.org/blog/fec-deadlocks-again-dark-money; David Levinthal, “How Washington Starves its Election Watchdog,” Dec. 17, 2013, http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/12/17/13996/how-washington-starves-its-election-watchdog; Cyrus Farivar, “Federal Election Commission deadlocks in proposal to allow bitcoin donations,” Nov. 21, 2013, http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2013/11/federal-election-commission-deadlocks-in-proposal-to-allow-bitcoin-donations/; Public Citizen, “Roiled in Partisan Deadlock, Federal Election Commission Is Failing,” http://www.citizen.org/documents/fec-deadlock-statement-and-chart-january-2013.pdf; Craig Holman and Lisa Gilbert, “The Partisan Federal Election Commission,” Aug. 22, 2013, http://thehill.com/blogs/congress-blog/politics/318077-the-partisan-federal-election-commission; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “Reforming the Federal Election Commission,” (no date, but internal citation indicates it was published after April 7, 2012), http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec#fec5.

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        75
        In practice, to what extent does the authority have sufficient capacity to monitor political finance regulations?More about indicator

        According to the Federal Election Commission Performance and Accountability Report for the Fiscal Year 2013, among its key goals and objectives is to ensure transparency by processing incoming reports within 30 days of receipt and reviewing all reports to ensure that the information disclosed is accurate and complete. As reflected in the Performance Summary, in 2012 this goal was met up to 94%, whereas in 2013 its performance declined to 88% (see Source 1).

        While in an evaluation conducted by the Group of States Against Corruption in 2011, the Commission appeared to be “a well-resourced organization with some 350 employees and a budget of US$66 million, apparently adequate for its current tasks” (see Source 5), in 2013 the Commission’s budget was reduced to US$62.9 million (see Source 1). As stated in the Performance Report, the budget reduction resulted in staff shortages and had a negative effect on the Commission’s ability to process all incoming financial reports in a timely way (see also Sources 2 and 6). For example, in 2013 the Reports Analysis Division anticipated meeting its workload with 36 campaign finance analysts, but ended the year with only 25 campaign finance analysts reviewing reports (see Source 1).

        As reported to the press by the Center for Responsive Politics, a national NGO that compiles and publishes information about campaign funding, on 21 May 2014 the Commission had processed and made available to the public the quarterly financial reports of only 356 of the 703 active candidates running for the 2014 elections to the House of Representatives (see Source 4). When asked about the reason of the delay, the Commission replied that the review of the remaining reports had not finished yet, although the deadline for the filing of the reports was 15 April and the Commission’s target is to complete processing 95% of the incoming reports within 30 days of receipt (see Sources 1 and 4).

        However, it is important to mention that despite the delays in processing and publishing incoming reports, the Commission eventually reviews all the reports and sends a request for additional information to the reporting committee in case it identifies violations, inconsistencies or missing information (see Sources 1 and 3).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) the authority has sufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, and 2) it has sufficient staff to review all incoming reports.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) the authority has insufficient budget to monitor all incoming reports, or 2) its staff can only review half of all incoming reports.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) the authority can't fulfill most of its essential functions due to budget constraints, or 2) its staff only has the capacity to review 25% or less of all incoming reports.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Performance and Accountability Report, Fiscal Year 2013, p. 6, 9, 14, 20. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/budget/fy2013/FECFinalPAR2013121613.pdf

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        4. "Data Delayed Is Democracy Denied: The F.E.C. Lags on Campaign Finance Disclosures", by Robert Biersack, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 16 July 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/opinion/the-fec-lags-on-campaign-finance-disclosures.html?_r=0 (accessed on 16 September 2014).

        5. Group of States against corruption (GRECO), Evaluation Report on the United States of America Transparency of Party Funding, sections 103 & 149. Available at: http://www.coe.int/t/dghl/monitoring/greco/evaluations/round3/GrecoEval3(2011)2USATwo_EN.pd

        6. David Levinthal, “How Washington Starves its Election Watchdog,” Dec. 17, 2013, Available at: http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/12/17/13996/how-washington-starves-its-election-watchdog.

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        100
        In practice, to what extent does the authority conduct investigations or audits when necessary?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission performs audit controls when, after a preliminary review of reports submitted by a political committee (including authorized and unauthorized committees), it finds that such committee appears not to have met the threshold requirements for substantial compliance, in particular with regard to the limitations, prohibitions and disclosure requirements established by the Federal Election Campaign Act. In addition, the Commission audits the committees of presidential candidates who accept public funding (see Sources 2, 7 and 8).

        With respect to the 2012 federal elections, the Audit Division of the Commission conducted four audits in relation to parties and candidates (see Source 1). The first audit was performed on a state party committee, the Tennessee Democratic Party (see Source 6). As stated in the Final Audit Report published by the Commission, the following aspects were examined: “the receipt of excessive contributions; the disclosure of individual contributors' occupation and name of employer; the disclosure of disbursements, debts and obligations; the disclosure of expenses allocated between federal, non-federal, and Levin accounts; the consistency between reported figures and bank records; the disclosure of independent expenditures; the completeness of records; and other committee operations necessary to the review”. In this framework, the Commission found that the Tennessee Democratic Party failed to disclose the receipt and disbursement of Levin funds handled during calendar year 2012 (see Source 9).

        Given the limited number of presidential candidates receiving public funding for the 2012 presidential elections, only the principal campaign committee of the primary candidate Buddy Roemer was audited (see Source 3). In this regard, the Commission assessed “whether the candidate was entitled to all of the matching funds received, whether the campaign used the matching funds in accordance with the law, whether the candidate is entitled to additional matching funds, and whether the campaign otherwise complied with the limitations, prohibitions, and disclosure requirements of the election law”. According to the FEC Final Audit Report, B. Roemer did not receive any matching funds in excess of his entitlement, but failed to report debts and obligations totaling US$42,097 (see Source 10).

        Furthermore, taking into account that the national party nominating conventions received public funding for the 2012 presidential elections, the Commission audited the Committee on Arrangements for the 2012 Republican National Convention and the 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee respectively (see Sources 4 and 5).

        No authorized committee was audited during the 2012 election cycle (see Source 8).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. The statements concerning the audits conducted during the most recent election campaign most likely understates the number of audits undertaken with respect to the 2012 election. The FEC often takes years to complete its audits. For example, in March 2014, the Commission approved four audits, of state or county political party committees, concerning the 2010 election. Additional audit reports for 2010 were approved on October 23, 2014 and on April 23, 2014.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority conducted at least three investigations or audits during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 50 score is earned where the authority conducted at least one investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        A 0 score is earned where the authority didn't conduct any investigation or audit during the most recent electoral campaign.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Report Search System. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/auditsearch/auditsearch.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Christian Hilland, Deputy Press Officer at the Federal Election Commission, 8 October 2014.

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Publicly Financed Committees and Host Committees, Buddy Roemer for President, Inc., 2012. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012BuddyRoemerforPresident.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Publicly Financed Committees and Host Committees, Committee on Arrangements for the 2012 Republican National Convention. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012COA2012RNCConvention.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Publicly Financed Committees and Host Committees, 2012 Tampa Bay Host Committee, Inc.. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012TampaBayHostComte.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        6. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Unauthorized Committees, Tennessee Democratic Party, 2012. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012TennesseeDemocraticParty.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        7. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        8. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/audit_reports.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        9. Final Audit Report of the Commission on the Tennessee Democratic Party (January 1, 2011 - December 31, 2012). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/TennesseeDemocraticParty_2012/FinalAuditReportoftheCommission1257705.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        10. Final Audit Report of the Commission on Buddy Roemer for President, Inc. (February 28, 2011 - March 31, 2014). Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/BuddyRoemerforPresidentInc/FinalAuditReportoftheCommission1302506.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        Reviewer's sources: FEC, “FEC Makes Public Draft Technical Corrections, Approves Four Audits,” March 6, 2014, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2014/newsreleases/20140306release.shtml. , FEC, "FEC Approves Proposed Final Audit Report,"October 23, 2014, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2014/newsreleases/20141023release.shtml. FEC, "FEC Approves Findings in Audit Division Recommendation Memorandum and Proposed Final Audit Report, Discusses Advisory Opinion Request, Introduces Updated Search Engine and Holds Audit Hearing," April 23, 2014, http://www.fec.gov/press/press2014/news_releases/20140423release.shtml.

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        100
        In practice, to what extent does the authority publish the results of investigations or audits?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission performs audit controls when, after a preliminary review of reports submitted by a political committee (including authorized and unauthorized committees), it finds that such committee appears not to have met the threshold requirements for substantial compliance, regarding in particular the limitations, prohibitions and disclosure requirements established by the Federal Election Campaign Act. The Commission also audits the committees of presidential candidates who accept public funding (see Sources 5 and 6).

        According to the Federal Election Commission Directive on Processing Audit Reports, within 30 days upon approval of a Final Audit Report, all the relevant documents shall be made available to the public via the Commission’s website. This includes Final Audit Reports of the Commission, Vote Certifications, Audit Division Recommendation Memoranda, Draft Final Audit Reports, Preliminary or Interim Audit Reports, any Committee’s responses to the Preliminary, Interim or Draft Final Audit Report, any written statements of any Commissioners, any links to audio or video, as well as transcripts of hearings related to the audit, and any memoranda submitted by the Office of General Counsel (see Sources 6, 7 and 8). This is verified by checking the website - in practice, all of the information is posted on the site upon the work's completion.

        The results and relevant documents related to the concluded audits can be accessed online either through an Audit Report Search System provided by the Commission’s website, or through a list of audit reports by election cycle and type of audited committee (see Sources 1, 2, 3 and 4).

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where the authority publishes reports of all its investigations or audits a month or less after their conclusion.

        A 50 score is earned where reports are available to the public more than a month after the conclusion of the investigation or audit.

        A 0 score is earned where reports are not available to the public or they become available after six months or more after conclusion of the investigation or audit. A 0 score is also earned where only summaries of the reports are publicly available.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Report Search System. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/auditsearch/auditsearch.do (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Publicly Financed Committees and Host Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/auditreportspres.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Unauthorized Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/auditreportsunauth.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports of Authorized Committees. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/auditreportsauth.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        5. Phone Interview with Ms. Katie Packer Gage, Political Campaign Manager/Partner at Burning Glass Consulting, 27 August 2014.

        6. Federal Election Commission Directive of 26 April 2011 on Processing Audit Reports, p. D. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/directives/directive_70.pdf (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        7. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Publicly Financed Committees and Host Committees, Buddy Roemer for President, Inc., 2012. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012BuddyRoemerforPresident.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

        8. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Audit Reports for Unauthorized Committees, Tennessee Democratic Party, 2012. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/audits/2012/AuditReport2012TennesseeDemocraticParty.shtml (accessed on 13 September 2014).

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      Enforcement Capabilities
      More about category
      • expand button!
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        YES
        In law, there are sanctions in response to political finance violations.More about indicator

        Section 437g (d) of the FECA states that “any person who knowingly and willfully commits a violation of any provision of this Act which involves the making, receiving, or reporting of any contribution, donation or expenditure aggregating US$25,000 or more during a calendar year, shall be fined and/or imprisoned for not more than 5 years”. Violations regarding a contribution or expenditure aggregating US$2,000 or more, but less than US$25,000, during a calendar year shall be sanctioned with a fine and/or imprisonment for not more than one year. The same penalties shall apply in the case of fraudulent solicitation of contributions (FECA, §441h) and in the case of a knowing and willful violation of the provisions regulating contributions to separate segregated funds for a total amount of US$250 or more during a calendar year. In addition, any person who makes or accepts contributions in the name of another aggregating more than US$10,000 during a calendar year shall be imprisoned for 2 years maximum if the amount is less than US$25,000 and for 5 years maximum if the amount exceeds US$25,000. The offender may also be fined not less than 300 percent of the amount involved in the violation and not more than the greater of US$50,000, or 1,000 percent of the amount involved in the violation [FECA, §437g (d)(1)(D)].

        According to section 527 (j) of the Internal Revenue Code, tax exempt political organizations not complying with the requirement to submit reports on their contributions and expenses shall be fined with an amount proportional to the amount to which the violation relates.

        A fine of US$5,000 maximum and/or imprisonment for not more than 3 years shall be imposed to any person who solicits or receives a donation in connection with a Federal, State, or local election from a person who is located in a room or building occupied in the discharge of official duties by any public officer or employee [U.S.C., Title 18, §607].

        Furthermore, section 9012 of the Internal Revenue code establishes a fine of US$5,000 and or imprisonment for no more than one year in case a presidential candidate who received public funding or his/her authorized committee violate the expenditure or contribution limits. A maximum fine of US$10,000 and/or imprisonment for no more than five years shall be imposed to a presidential candidate or committee who received public funding for his/her campaign, in case of unlawful use of the public funding [Internal Revenue Code, §9012 (c)]. Finally, a presidential candidate or political committee who knowingly and willfully make false statements shall be punished with a fine not exceeding US$10,000 and /or imprisonment for not more than five years. The same penalties plus a fine equal to 125 percent of the kickback or payment received shall apply to any person who gives or accepts any kickback or illegal payment [Internal Revenue Code, §9012 (d), (e)].

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the law clearly defines violations of political finance laws, and 2) there are clearly defined sanctions for specific violations.

        A MODERATE score is earned where violations are clearly defined but sanctions for specific violations are not.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §437g, §438a, §441h, . Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

        2. The Internal Revenue Code of 1986 (as amended), Title 26 U.S.C. §9012 (c), §527 (j), §. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

        3. Title 18 U.S.C., §607. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 9 September 2014).

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        YES
        In law, the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions.More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission has exclusive jurisdiction with respect to the civil enforcement of the FECA provisions, as well as the provisions of the Internal Revenue Code in relation to public funding for presidential elections [FECA, §437c (b)(1)]. Furthermore, according to section 437d (a)(9) of the FECA, the Commission has the power "to conduct investigations and hearings expeditiously, to encourage voluntary compliance, and to report apparent violations to the appropriate law enforcement authorities". The Commission also has the power to impose administrative fines through the administrative fine program and civil money penalties through voluntary settlements called conciliation agreements [FECA, §437g and Source 3].

        Administrative fines are assessed when committees fail to timely file reports or 48-hour notices, or do not file reports at all. The amount of the fine takes into account the type of violation (late filling or no filling), the amount of the violation, the existence of previous violations by the committee involved and the election sensitivity of a late report. [FECA, §437g (a)(4) and Source 2]. When a respondent fails to pay the fine, the Commission may transfer the case to the U.S. Department of the Treasury for collection. Alternatively, the Commission may decide to file suit in the appropriate U.S. District Court to collect fines [FECA, §437g(a)(6)(A) and Source 5].

        If the Commission, upon receiving a complaint or on the basis of information ascertained in the normal course of carrying out its supervisory responsibilities, determines, by an affirmative vote of 4 of its members, that it has reason to believe that a person has committed a violation of campaign finance rules, it shall initiate a confidential investigation and come to a conciliation agreement with the parties involved [FECA, §437g(a)(2) and Source 3]. A conciliation agreement usually includes civil penalties and an admission of having violated the FECA. There is also an Alternative Dispute Resolution program, where the Commission negotiates with the parties involved seeking to reach a mutually acceptable settlement agreement. This type of agreement may contain a monetary penalty, but its primary focus will be remedial terms negotiated by the parties (see Source 4).

        If one party does not agree to the conciliation agreement, the parties may be offered the opportunity for a binding mediation process. If they do not agree to this, the case is referred to the Office of the General Counsel for potential prosecution (see Source 4).

        Scoring Criteria

        A YES score is earned where: 1) the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, and 2) it can directly prosecute violators before the courts or is independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A MODERATE score is earned where the oversight authority has the power to impose sanctions, but it can't directly prosecute violators before the courts or is not independent to send cases to public prosecution.

        A NO score is earned where no such law exists.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) of 1971 (as amended), Title 2 U.S.C. §437c (b)(1), §437d (a)(9), §437g . Available at: http://www.fec.gov/law/feca/feca.shtml#legislation (accessed on 10 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Administrative Fine Calculator. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/af/af_calc.shtml (accessed on 11 September 2014).

        3. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Guidebook for Complainants and Respondents on the FEC Enforcement Process. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/em/respondent_guide.pdf (accessed on 6 October 2014).

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Alternative Dispute Resolution Program. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/em/adr.shtml (accessed on 6 October 2014).

        5. Federal Election Commission Official Website - How the Administrative Fine Program Works. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/pages/brochures/admin_fines.shtml (accessed on 6 October 2014).

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        50
        In practice, to what extent do offenders comply with sanctions imposed?More about indicator

        As noted by the interviewed sources and found by the research conducted on the website of the Federal Election Commission, the Commission imposes administrative fines to political committees that do not submit financial reports on time, fail to file reports at all or do not comply with the obligation to submit 48-hour notices for contributions and independent expenditures. It may also impose civil penalties for violation of the provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, after conducting a confidential investigative process that culminates in a conciliation agreement with the offender. These enforcement cases are called Matters Under Review (see Sources 3 and 4). Detailed documents relating to closed enforcement matters are accessible through the Commission's Enforcement Query System (see Source 2). There is also a separate catalog with basic information on administrative fines, including the report that caused the penalty, the amount of the fine, information about the candidacy if the penalty was paid by a campaign committee, whether the report was late or not filed and whether the penalty has been paid (see Source 1).

        According to the information listed in the Commission’s Administrative Fines catalog, during the 2012 election year only two presidential candidates were fined for failure to submit a pre-election report and one for filing a late quarterly report. All three candidates paid the fine and did not repeat the violation. On the other hand, 11 out of the 26 administrative fines that were imposed on campaign committees of Senate candidates in 2012 were not paid, but only one of the campaign committees was a repeat offender. As for the House candidates, the Commission imposed 113 administrative fines out of which 73 were paid, while 16 candidate committees failed to submit a report more than once. In addition, fines were imposed in more than 80 cases of PACs that did not comply with the reporting requirements during 2012 and all except for 5 PACs paid the fines (see Sources 1 and 2).

        Finally, with regard to Matters Under Review, from January 2012 until September 2014 the Commission entered into approximately 30 conciliation agreements providing for the offenders to pay civil penalties (see Source 2).


        Peer reviewer comment: I agree with the score but would add the comment that the sanctions actually imposed are often quite modest and are not imposed until years after the offense.

        Scoring Criteria

        A 100 score is earned where: 1) offenders comply with the sanctions imposed without exception, and 2) they are not repeat offenders.

        A 50 score is earned where: 1) offenders usually comply with the sanctions imposed but exceptions exist, or 2) most are not repeat offenders but some exceptions exist.

        A 0 score is earned where: 1) offenders rarely comply with the sanctions imposed, or 2) most are repeat offenders.

        Sources
        1. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Administrative Fines. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/data/AdminFine.do?format=html (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        2. Federal Election Commission Enforcement Query System. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqs/searcheqs (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        3. Phone Interview with Mr. Dave Levinthal, Senior Political Reporter at The Center for Public Integrity, 26 August 2014.

        4. Federal Election Commission Official Website - Enforcement Matters. Available at: http://www.fec.gov/em/em.shtml (accessed on 20 September 2014).

        Reviewer's sources: David Levinthal, “How Washington Starves its Election Watchdog,” Dec. 17, 2013, http://www.publicintegrity.org/2013/12/17/13996/how-washington-starves-its-election-watchdog; Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, “Reforming the Federal Election Commission,” (no date, but internal citation indicates it was published after April 7, 2012) (discussing “inadequate punitive measures”), http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec#fec5.

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        --
        Open Question: How strong is enforcement, and what impedes more effective enforcement?More about indicator

        The Federal Election Commission has the power to impose administrative fines to political committees that do not submit financial reports on time, fail to file reports at all or do not comply with the obligation to submit 48-hour notices for contributions and independent expenditures. It can also negotiate and make conciliation agreements providing for civil penalties for violations of the provisions of the Federal Election Campaign Act, after an investigative process. In order to propose a civil penalty or initiate an investigation, the Commission must determine by an affirmative vote of at least 4 of its 6 members that there is a “reason to believe” a violation may have occurred (see Sources 1, 3 and 4).

        However, given that the Commissioners are selected by the two major political parties, the Commission is currently composed of three Republican, two Democratic members and one Independent appointee who sides with the Democrats (see Source 2). As pointed out by the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), party leaders nominate Commissioners who promote their political interests. Thus, the political affiliation of the appointed Commissioners may affect the decisions of the Commission on enforcement matters. Taking into account the bipartisan structure and the even number of members, the Commission often reaches a deadlock, due to a 3-3 tie vote (see Sources 1, 2 and 5).

        According to Mr. Craig Holman, Government Affairs Lobbyist at the non-profit organization Public Citizen, a study reveals that the percentage of deadlocks has increased significantly following the appointment of three new Republican Commissioners in 2008. More specifically, in the five years preceding 2008, the Commission decided on 3,634 enforcement matters and split votes on 39, whereas after 2008, “it held just 866 enforcement votes, and split votes on 123 of them” (see Source 4). In a New York Times’ article, Ms. Ann M. Ravel, Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission, also highlighted that the three Republican Commissioners “often vote as a bloc against pursuing important matters”. As a result, “the Commission is failing to enforce the nation’s campaign finance laws” (see Source 3).

        For example, in a recent Matter Under Review the Commission failed to reach an agreement in order to investigate whether Crossroads GPS, a nonprofit organization under section 501 (c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code that made excessive expenditures for electoral advertising during the 2010 congressional elections, was in fact a political committee and should therefore disclose the names of its donors to the general public (see Sources 3 and 6). In another case involving a Super PAC using video footage produced by the authorized principal campaign committee of a House candidate, the Commission again reached a deadlock that did not allow it to investigate whether the use of the video by the Super PAC constituted an illegal in-kind contribution to the candidate (see Source 7).

        There are those who argue that a FEC reform is needed in order to enhance enforcement of the campaign finance rules and prevent deadlocks. For instance, a seventh member who would be a representative of an independent ombudsman could be added to the Commission (see Source 2). Furthermore, the passing of the DISCLOSE Act (see also Indicator 33) would help increase transparency with regard to campaign spending by corporations, unions and 501 (c) groups, and prevent the infiltration of large amounts of “dark money” in electoral campaigns (see Source 8).


        Peer reviewer comment: Agree. Furthermore, both pro- and anti-reform legislators have called for abolishing the FEC entirely; some pro-reform advocacy groups have called for replacing the FEC with a nonpartisan agency that would be fully independent of Congress while anti-regulation groups have argued that the FEC should be abolished and the responsibility for enforcing violations of the law be transferred to the Department of Justice.

        Scoring Criteria

        Please provide a general explanation of the effectiveness of enforcement, describing: 1) any conditions that may prevent effective enforcement, and 2) explain what are the most urgent areas of reform in the country's political finance system.

        Sources
        1. Phone Interview with Mr. Brad Deutsch, Political Law Attorney/Owner at Garvey Schubert Barer and former Senior Legal Advisor at the Federal Election Commission, 29 August 2014.

        2. Phone Interview with Mr. Anthony Corrado, Ph.D., Specialist in Political Finance, Department of Government, Colby College, 8 October 2014.

        3. "How Not to Enforce Campaign Laws", by Ann M. Ravel (Vice Chairwoman of the Federal Election Commission), THE NEW YORK TIMES, 2 April 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/04/03/opinion/how-not-to-enforce-campaign-laws.html?smid=tw-share&assetType=opinion&_r=0

        4. "Election Panel Enacts Policies by Not Acting", by Nicholas Confessore, THE NEW YORK TIMES, 25 August 2014. Available at: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/08/26/us/politics/election-panel-enacts-policies-by-not-acting.html

        5. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), "Reforming the Federal Election Commission". Available at: http://www.citizensforethics.org/policy/entry/reforming-the-fec

        6. Federal Election Commission - Decision on Crossroads GPS, Matter Under Review Case No. 6396. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/14044350869.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        7. Federal Election Commission - Decision on House Majority PAC and Friends of Cheri Bustos. Available at: http://eqs.fec.gov/eqsdocsMUR/13044344235.pdf (accessed on 18 September 2014).

        8. "What's Next for Campaign Finance Reform?", by Meredith McGehee, HUFFINGTON POST, 19 September 2014. Available at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/meredith-mcgehee/campaign-finance-reformb5847164.html

        Peer Review Sources: -Fred Wertheimer, “Abolish the FEC and Start a New Campaign Finance System,” New York Times, October 14, 2014. Available at http://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2014/10/13/campaign-finance-40-years-later-23/abolish-the-fec-and-start-a-new-campaign-finance-system. - John Samples, The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008), pp. 286-87.

The United states has national elections for a bicameral legislature and a directly elected President.

The House of Representatives is comprised of 435 voting representatives proportionally representing the population of all 50 states. Each member is directly elected through a first-past-the-post system to a two-year term in their electoral district. Non-voting members represent non-state territories, such as the District of Columbia, Guam, etc.

The Senate is comprised of 100 Senators, 2 directly elected in each of the 50 States in statewide voting. Senators are elected for six-year terms, with 1/3 of the seats up for election every two years.

The President is both the Head of State and Head of Government and is elected to a four-year term with an absolute majority of votes, by an electoral college comprising 538 members. Presidential elections coincide with the election of all 435 House seats and 1/3 of Senator seats. Presidents are limited to two terms or, in the case of vice presidents who accede to the presidency, ten years in office. There are no term limits for representatives or senators. The most recent presidential election took place on 6 November 2012, and the next election for all House seats and 1/3 of Senate seats taking place 4 November 2014.

Funding for campaigns is predominantly private, though there is public funding available for presidential campaings if candidates meet certain requirements, including acquiscing to an expenditure cap. However, it is almost entirely private as major presidential candidates have stopped taking public funding. Candidates manage their campaign finances through campaign committees, and other campaign committees (such as party committees and independent political action committees) are also regulated and monitored by the Federal Election Commission. Federal law defines as a “political committee” any organization that raises or spends more than $1000 in a calendar year to influence a federal election. 2 U.S. Code § 431(4). Every candidate for federal office is required to designate a “principal campaign committee,” 2 U.S. Code § 432(e)(1) which must register and file prescribed forms with the Federal Election Commission as well as satisfy certain organizational requirements. Political party committees are also political committees subject to these rules. There are six national party committees – the Democratic National Committee, Republican National Committee, and each party’s campaign committees for the House and for the Senate. State parties that participate in federal elections, including by spending on certain activities that benefit an entire federal-state slate of candidates are subject to federal requirements as are local party committees. Non-party organizations that have the primary purpose of engaging in federal electoral activity, and raise or spend above the threshold amounts, are subject to registration and reporting requirements, too. These include both committees established by corporations and unions (which are barred from giving directly to candidates, but can support candidates through donations raised from people affiliated with those organizations); committees established by non-profit organizations barred from participating directly in electoral politics; and so-called “non-connected committees: that exist for political purposes. In addition, there are groups that are not primarily political – or at least they so contend – that engage in some federal electoral activity but do not have to register as political committees. They will, however, have to report certain kinds of electoral spending that crosses the statutory threshold level.

Most states require parties to nominate candidates in primary elections, so that every election really involves two elections, the primary and the general. Presidential candidates run in primaries or other nominating contests in the states, spread out over many months. Due at least in part to the use of primaries to nominate candidates, as well as the relative weakness of party organizations at the national level, American elections have long been very candidate-centered. Candidates run on party lines, but manage (and finance) their own campaigns, with party support in the general election.

The Democratic and Republican Parties have long dominated federal elections. Under the Electoral College system, winning the presidential election requires winning pluralities of the popular vote in states, and no independent candidate or party has carried even a single state since 1968. An occasional independent wins election to Congress but they tend to sit with one or the other of the major parties. At the national level, the two major parties are closely balanced. The Democratic and Republican candidates have each won five of the last ten presidential elections. Democrats have controlled the House for 24 of the last 40 years, although the Republicans have dominated more recently, controlling that chamber for 16 of the last 20 years. Democrats have been the majority in the Senate for 23 ½ of the last 40 years, and 9 ½ of the last 20 years; Republicans had the majority the rest of the time.