Candidates & Money

by Nicolas Gutierrez

There is much social disorder revolving around the conflict between presidential candidates with money and those without money. Since the dawn of campaigning, the candidates with the more money have always gone farther during the election process. The central American government has known this for over 100 years, and thus has made considerable measures to fix the situation, yet there is still much that can be done.


Since the first presidential elections, in fact since the first election, the candidates who posses the greater amount of money, have always been more successful in the overall election. The central American government has known this for over 100 years, and thus has made considerable measures to fix the situation. It all started in 1876.

Between 1876 and 1971, numerous laws have been passed which have imposed 4 main regulations. The most significant is to limit the size of contributions from the wealthy and from large organizations, especially special interest groups, do not have to large of an influence on the elections. The next form of restriction requires public disclosure of campaign finances to prevent abuse of funds, and to help educate the electorates. The final two restrictions prohibit the source of certain funds, and control campaign spending. These types of laws were imposed between 1876 and 1971.

The first law was imposed in 1876, which prevented Federal officials from requesting money from Naval Yard workers. 1907 Congress passed Tillman Act, which prohibited from large corporations and banks from contributing to Federal campaigns. In 1910, an act was passed which forced candidates to disclosure their financial information. At first this only affected the House. This act was later amended in 1911 to include Senate elections. This amendment also set spending limits for Congressional campaigns.

Three more laws add more strict restrictions. The Federal Corrupt Practices Act of 1925 increased disclosure requirements, and raised expenditure limits. This bill affected only general elections. The Hatch Act of 1939 followed by 1940 amendment allowed for Congress to monitor the primary elections, and also limited contributions and expenditures for Congressional elections. An expenditure is a payment or the promise of a future payment. The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 barred labor unions and corporations from making contributions and expenditures in Federal elections.

All of the above mentioned laws had flaws, mainly because there was no institution/administration/group/etc. to oversee and enforce the restrictions which had been put in place. This all changed with the 1971 Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) (P.L. 92-225), and the 1971 Revenues Act (P.L. 92-178). FECA required full reporting of campaign contributions and expenditure and limited spending on media advertisements. FECA also set in place separate segregated funds, also called PACs or political action committees. A PAC is a political committee which raises and spends money to support or defeat a candidate. PACs are established by unions and corporations. The Tillman Act and the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 banned direct contributions, but money is used from the business’ treasury to establish, operate, or solicit voluntary funds for a PAC. As stated by the FECA, the Clerk of the House, Secretary of the Senate and Comptroller General of the United States General Accounting Office (GAO), to monitor and enforce the law. The Revenue Act allows citizens to check a box on their tax forms which allows the government to use one of the citizen’s tax dollars to finance Presidential candidates in the general election. By 1976, enough tax dollars had been accumulated to fund presidential election, the first publicly funded election.


The 1974 amendment to FECA imposed an independent body to ensure compliance with campaign laws, called Federal Election Commission (FEC). Took responsibilities formerly had by Clerk of the House, Secretary of the Senate and Comptroller General of the United States General Accounting Office. The amendment also provided Federal funding for presidential primary.

On January 30, 1976, the Supreme Court ruled on Buckley v. Valeo, the case between Senator James L. Buckley and Secretary of Senate, Francis R. Valeo. In response to the ruling, FECA was amended in 1976 to remove expenditure limits and to limit the of PAC contributions. The amendment stated that PACs can give up to $5,000 per candidate per election and can give $15,000 annually to a national party. They can also give $5,000 to another PAC and can receive no more than $5,000 from any one individual/organization/other PAC/etc.

While there are strict restrictions are numerous and firm, more still can be done. As shown in this year’s primary elections, money is an imperative variable in determining the success of the candidate. This restricts a more deserving candidate from getting the chance that he (or she) can fairly receive.



Graph Section 1 shows how much money was raised per specific candidate, in each political party. It is clear that well known names such as Giuliani, Clinton, and McCain, and Obama, receive the most amount of funding. These 2 graphs are purely for statistical purposes, and no conclusion can be derived from them (except the one above).


Graph Section 2 shows the connections between delegates and the amount of money raised. On the democratic side, it is very clear that the more money that is raised, the more delegates are received. On the republican side, while it is clear that those who have raised a significant amount, such as John McCain and Mitt Romney, do better than those who raise a rather small amount, such as Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo.

However, this is information is not enough to warrant a conclusion as the consistency of money to delegates is almost none existent, compared to that of the democrats. Mitt Romney raised the most money, with a whopping $90 million, and was able to obtain 255 delegates. John McCain on the other hand, raised the 3rd largest sum of money, with almost $55 million, gained by far the most amount of delegates, and impressive 1325, almost 5 times as much as the next highest contender, which granted McCain the Republican Nomination. The most amazing feat is probably how Mike Huckabee could have remained a contender throughout the entire primary, gaining 267, the 2nd highest amount, with only $13 million dollars, the 6th highest. Due to this information, I do not believe that a definite conclusion is obtainable, except for the fact that those with more money generally do well in the election. However it is not certain that those with the most money do better.


Graph Section 3 shows how much money each candidate raised per delegate received. To show this accurately, if a candidate did not receive any delegates, I made so that they would have had 1. The purpose of these graphs is to show which candidate got more “bang for the buck”. The lower the number, the more productive the candidate was with his/her money. This number does show an accurate statistic of who is in the lead of each party. In the democrats, Obama has the lowest number, and if you refer to the other charts, you will see that he is in fact in the lead. He is followed by Hillary, and then Edwards. Note that Mike Gravel’s number is the lowest, with approximately $11,000, and this is because that is the actual amount of money that he raised.
On the Republican side, you see that McCain has the lowest number, followed by Huckabee, and then Romney. This is directly mirrors how the election occurred.

You can't beat Ron Paul.

“Appendix 4: Brief History” Federal Election Commission

“Election Center 2008: Money – Democrats” CNN

“Election Center 2008: Money – Republicans” CNN

“Election Center 2008: Delegate Scoreboard” CNN March 12, 2008.

“Election Center 2008: Delegate Scoreboard” CNN March 12, 2008.

“expenditure Definition”

“Political Action Committees”