Money in Politics
Democracy is Not For Sale
One of the most serious threats to our democracy system is the vast amounts of money spent on campaigns. The influx of money has made it to every level of elections and increased the amount of influence peddling in state and local governance. Citizens United and later cases opened a floodgate of money into our political system, which skews policies to favor those who can afford to spend thousands, or even millions, of dollars on campaigns.
This monied influence reduces public trust in our democratic system and can suppress voter turnout as well. LWV Minnesota advocates for a campaign finance system that empowers the everyday voter rather than only the few who can afford to fund expensive campaigns.
LWV United States Position
Campaign finance regulation should enhance political equality for all citizens, ensure transparency, protect representative democracy from distortion by big money, and combat corruption and undue influence in government.
The League believes that campaign spending must be restricted but not banned. The League supports public financing, full disclosure, abolishing SuperPACs and creating an effective enforcement agency.
LWV Minnesota Position
Support improvements in election laws regulating campaign practices:
The public’s right to comprehensive disclosure of all political campaign contributions and expenditures: mandatory, timely, uniform and complete reports of campaign contributions and expenditures should be made to a central authority responsible for disseminating such information to the public; responsibility for reporting contributions to the candidate’s campaign and for reporting expenditures by the candidate and those made on the candidate’s behalf rests squarely on the candidate; penalties should be stringent enough to ensure compliance by candidates.
Judicious use of public resources to finance campaigns.
Reduction of the amount of money spent on campaigns.
Money in Politics Flyer
Transparency through Disclosures and Disclaimers
LWV Minnesota supports the public's right to know who is using money to influence elections. Mandatory, timely, uniform, and complete reports of campaign contributions and expenditures should be made to a central authority responsible for disseminating such information to the public. Currently, that authority is the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board.
Public Financing that Empowers Small Donors
LWV Minnesota supports the public financing of elections in which candidates must abide by reasonable spending limits. LWV Minnesota believes that our campaign finance system should combat political corruption. LWV Minnesota believes that political corruption includes:
A candidate or officeholder agrees to vote or work in favor of a donor's interests in exchange for a campaign contribution.
An officeholder or staff gives greater access to donors.
An officeholder votes or works to support policies that reflect the preferences of individuals or organizations in order to attract contributions from them.
A candidate or officeholder seeks political contributions implying that there will be retribution unless a donation is given.
The results of the political process consistently favor the interests of significant campaign contributors.
LWV Minnesota also supports abolishing SuperPACs and spending coordinated or directed by candidates (other than by the candidate's own campaign committee). LWV Minnesota supports restrictions on contributions or bundling of contributions by lobbyists.
Strong Enforcement of Campaign Finance Laws
LWV Minnesota supports ensuring that regulatory agencies for campaign finance laws are properly funded, staffed, and structured to avoid partisan deadlock in the decision-making. The responsibility for reporting contributions and expenditures should rest squarly on the candidate. Penalties should be stringent enough to ensure compliance by candidates.
In November 2017, several west metro LWVs held a joint event titled Money in Minnesota Politics - Should It Be Regulated? with Professor David Schultz, Senator Kiffmeyer, and Senator Marty, with Tom Horner moderating.
In September 2014, LWV St. Paul recorded panel of speakers, Money in Politics: Does the influence of money represent a dangerous threat to our democracy?
In 2013, LWV Minnesota published The Tip of the Iceberg: How Minnesota's Campaign Finance Laws Limit Transparency, a briefing paper on disclosure and disclaimer laws in Minnesota.
In 2010, LWV Minnesota published a briefing paper on the Supreme Court case Citizens United and its effects on Minnesota law.
Further resources can be found in the Brennan Center for Justice's Money in Politics Empirical Evidence Database.