Swift Boat Democracy & The New American Campaign Finance Regime
October 1, 2004Lee E. Goodman
Commonly known as McCain-Feingold in the Senate and Shays-Meehan in the House, the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002 ("BCRA") amended the Federal Election Campaign Act of 1971 ("FECA") to impose significant new restrictions on American politicians, political parties, interest groups and business corporations interested in expressing an opinion on public policy or presidential and congressional elections. BCRA passed Congress after years of attempts. Following the Enron and WorldCom scandals (which had nothing to do with election activity), political conditions finally supported passage of sweeping new restrictions on corporate political activity. The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act was passed by Congress and signed by the President in March 2002. The new law went into effect November 6, 2002, and the Federal Election Commission (FEC) quickly implemented dozens of new regulations to implement the new law. The key provisions of the new law are summarized below. What remains to be seen is what impact they will have upon American elections and democratic speech.