Turning Cash into Votes: The Law and Economics of Campaign Contributions
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AbstractAs a result of the recent Citizens United decision and its “Super PAC” spawn, individuals, corporations, and unions are allowed to independently spend unlimited amounts to influence elections. The ramifications of the Citizens United ruling have seemingly had a grave impact on the 2016 Presidential Election. In addition to examining the laws—and their loopholes—of political campaign contributions, this Essay will also explore the economics of campaign contributions. Ultimately, there are two reasons as to why corporations provide such large sums of money: one is rent creation, which is the attempt to gain political favors for “special interests;” the second is rent extraction, which is an attempt to avoid political disfavors. As the behavior of candidates continues to resemble the practices of bribery and extortion, campaign finance reform efforts are likely to become more aggressive—in an effort to curb corruption, or the appearance of corruption. Moreover, in the wake of Justice Scalia’s death, the Court may consider revisiting and overturning Citizens United. As such, this Essay will investigate potential solutions to combat the lax campaign finance laws.