The FEC and Federal Campaign Finance Law - Research Paper Example

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This paper “The FEC and Federal Campaign Finance Law” takes a look into the Federal Election Commission, or FEC, specifically as how this particular entity is in charge of implementing campaign finance laws, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the job done by this commission in regards to this particular topic…
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The FEC and Federal Campaign Finance Law
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The FEC and Federal Campaign Finance Law
This particular paper takes a look into the Federal Election Commission, or FEC, specifically as how this particular entity is in charge of implementing campaign finance laws, as well as the efficiency and effectiveness of the job done by this commission in regards to this particular topic.
Keywords: FEC, Federal Election Commission, campaign finance law, effectiveness, efficiency
The FEC and Federal Campaign Finance Law
Let’s face it, federal campaigns cost money, quite a lot of money, in fact, but who regulates how those funds are used, where those funds come from, and the reporting requirements of those funds? The Federal Election Commission, or FEC, is “the independent regulatory agency charged with administering and enforcing the federal campaign finance law. The FEC has jurisdiction over the financing of campaigns for the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, the Presidency and the Vice Presidency” (FEC, 2013).
Federal campaign finance law has jurisdiction over three broad areas, “public disclosure of funds raised and spent to influence federal elections, restrictions on contributions and expenditures made to influence federal elections, and the public financing of Presidential campaigns” (FEC, 2013); these are the three areas that the FEC is in charge of enforcing. The FEC was created in 1971, but the need for this type of regulation was seen as early as 1905 by President Roosevelt. The idea behind this was to limit the influence that the wealthy would have over the outcome of a specific election, work on regulating the amount spent while campaigning for a federal office, and work to deter abuse of the system by requiring public disclosure of the funds that are spent, and where those funds are allocated.
The question becomes, since this system was implemented in the 1970s, how well has it worked? Is it an efficient system, and is it effective in accomplishing the goals that have been set for this particular government agency? The FEC has a system of checks and balances in place to where they not only review each report filed by federal candidates and committees, but also a system of enforcement and a system that allows third parties to file complaints, if they believe a violation has occurred.
The staff reviews each report that they receive, as filed by a federal candidate or committee in order to make sure that they have complied fully with the disclosure requirements and limits that are imposed on political contributions. In addition, they may generate an enforcement action, referred to as a MUR, or Matter Under Review, during the course of reviewing these reports. If four of the six members that review each specific instance of possible violation of the law believe that a violation has occurred, the MUR will move to the next level of investigation. In the next level of investigation, the Commission uses a form of mediation between the parties who have submitted the report and those who believe the violation has occurred. The agreement reached as a result of these reviews may require a fine be paid, or other action be taken. If an agreement cannot be reached, however, the Commission many file a suit against the appropriate persons in a U.S. District Court (FEC, 2013). A complaint may also be filed by any concerned third party, which would then go through the same steps as a typical MUR.
The system of checks and balances that the FEC has in place, and the way that they attempt to uphold the law is moderately effective; too much is still being spent on campaign expenditures, but on the outskirts of that, they do work to ensure that all candidates uphold the rules and regulations as set forth in federal campaign finance law. As a government entity, it does have its faults, and it does work slower than a typical corporation, but this is the case in anything within the legal system. The system that is in place today is far more effective than it was in the past, and efforts are constantly being made to refine the process, as can be seen in the case of Citizens United versus the FEC.

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FEC. Federal Election Commission, (2013). The fec and the federal campaign finance law. Retrieved from website: Read More
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