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"There are strict laws limiting campaign advertisements that say to vote for or against a candidate. But there are far less controls on issue ads that say virtually the same thing, yet merely stop short of using the word "vote."

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Does the campaign finance system need to be revamped?

Campaign Poster
1.09.04
Politics and Economy:
Paying for Politics
More on This Story:
Buying the President 2004

The Center for Public Integrity has just published its third large-scale investigation into the money running the race for the White House. THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT 2004 took more than 50 researchers, writers and editors over a year, investigating the candidates and the political parties, contacting or interviewing 600 people and analyzing nearly two million financial records at over 100 federal agencies.

This edition highlights the financial trends of American politics. The 2000 election was by far the most expensive election in U.S. history, and the 2004 election will easily surpass it. Among the bi-partisan findings of the investigation: Enron is President Bush's largest lifetime contributor ($602,625); Anheuser-Busch is Dick Gephardt's ($518,750). AFSCME (the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees) has contributed the most money to the Democratic Party since 1978. Philip Morris holds the same spot for the Republican Party. Find out more on THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT 2004 from the Center for Public Integrity.

If you'd like to do some campaign finance tracking of your own, you can search the Federal Election Commission's Web site to discover where the dollars come from. The site allows you to search by candidate, company or interest group name. The Campaign Finance Information Center links to state data. To follow the money and politics trail further, take a look at the Web site of the Federal Procurement Data Center. It keeps track of federal contracts over $25,000. The executive departments and agencies award over $200 billion annually for goods and services. The site has a function which enables visitors to search by federal agency, product and service, state or contractor.

Bill Moyers interviews Chuck Lewis, author of THE BUYING OF THE PRESIDENT 2004 (18:52)

Use the links below to investigate a wide range of ideas about the campaign finance system.

The American Conservative Union on Campaign Finance Reform
The American Conservative Union (ACU) commissioned the report, "Who's Buying Campaign Finance Reform?" to shed light on where the anti-First Amendment campaign 'reform' movement gets its money and what its leaders, followers and funders really want for America.

Campaign Finance Reform
This page on conservative U.S. politics asks if campaign finance reform is solving a problem or restricting free speech by providing bulleted lists of reformers' views and opponents' views, and links to resources.

The Center for Responsive Politics
The Center for Responsive Politics is a non-partisan, non-profit research group based in Washington, D.C. that tracks money in politics, and its effect on elections and public policy.

Common Cause
Campaign finance oversight group, Common Cause, presented a user's Guide to Soft Money — a searchable database of special interest soft money contributions to the Democratic and Republican national party committees.

Public Campaign
Public Campaign is a non-profit, non-partisan organization dedicated to sweeping reform that aims to dramatically reduce the role of special interest money in America's elections and the influence of big contributors in American politics. Public Campaign works with various organizations, particularly citizen groups around the country that are fighting for change in their states. The site offers frequent updates and press releases giving you the latest news on campaign finance reform.

Money and Politics
The Cato Institute seeks to broaden the parameters of public policy debate to allow consideration of the traditional American principles of limited government, individual liberty, free markets and peace. In the articles on this Web site, Cato scholars explain why the various proposals for extensive new regulations on campaign finance are unconstitutional, based on faulty assumptions and destined to result in unintended and undesirable consequences.

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