Honors Theses

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Undergraduate Thesis

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Marvin King

Relational Format

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

The purpose of this thesis is to explore Super PACs as a source of campaign finance and their impact on the federal elections process. After explaining the history of federal campaign finance law in the United States, the role of anonymity by Super PACs is questioned. This thesis argues that two court case decisions are responsible for the creation of Super PACs: Citizens United v. FEC and SpeechNOW.org v. FEC. The cases, and their conflicting interests, are both summarized and analyzed. Next, using federal campaign finance data from the past decade, the impact of Super PACs on campaign finance is both described and analyzed. These data are used to draw conclusions about the immense impact the dark money produced by Super PACs has had on recent election cycles and on the modern era of campaign finance. The struggle between anonymous big money donations and democracy is discussed. It is concluded that Super PACs are incompatible with an open and equal democracy, as they allow unlimited, anonymous donations to overpower the interests of individuals.

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