Without fail, campaign financing inevitably becomes a hot topic in the months leading up to a presidential election, but many of the vocabulary and laws that get thrown around sound more like a foreign language than the American political process. We've translated a few of the more common terms you'll hear in relation to this topic, so bone up on your campaign financing know-how before the presidential debates kick off next month.
Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA): A law passed in 1971 that governs the financing of federal elections and requires candidates and political committees to disclose funding sources and spending practices. Additionally, it applies regulations to campaign contributions and spending during federal elections, and it polices the use of public funds in presidential elections.
Federal Election Commission (FEC): Established by a 1974 amendment of FECA, the FEC is an independent regulatory agency that enforces federal campaign finance laws.
Buckley v. Valeo: In 1976, the Supreme Court upheld the Federal Election Campaign Act's requirements of financial disclosure, contribution limits, and the provision for public funding of presidential election campaigns in the case Buckley v. Valeo. However, it struck down spending limits for candidates not receiving public funds (such as congressional candidates) and for independent groups who do not campaign for or against a candidate. Finally, the ruling stated that candidates who do not accept public money need not limit spending from personal funds.