By undermining competitive elections, campaign finance laws undermine democracy. Campaign finance ”reform” distracts us from the real issue, the ultimate source of potential corruption-ubiquitous government. Government today fosters corruption because it exercises vast powers over virtually every aspect of life. Is it any wonder that special interests-indeed, every interest but the general-should be trying either to take advantage of that or to protect themselves from it?

More on Campaign Finance

Cato Studies

Staring at the Sun: An Inquiry into Compulsory Campaign Finance Donor Disclosure Laws

By Eric Wang. Policy Analysis No. 829. December 14, 2017.

Free Speech and the 527 Prohibition

By Stephen M. Hoersting. Briefing Paper No. 96. April 3, 2006.

Uncompetitive Elections and the American Political System

By Patrick Basham and Dennis Polhill. Policy Analysis No. 547. June 30, 2005.


Stephen Colbert Is Right to Lampoon Our Campaign Finance System (and So Can You!)

Ilya Shapiro. University of St. Thomas (Minn.) Journal of Law & Public Policy. Vol. 4. No. 2. Spring 2013.

Not under My First Amendment

Cato's Letter. Floyd Abrams. Vol. 3. No. 4. Fall 2005.

Public Filings

Evergreen Freedom Foundation v. Washington

By Ilya Shapiro, Trevor Burrus, Patrick Moran, Allen Dickerson, Tyler Martinez, & Zac Morgan. Legal Briefs. May 13, 2019.

Comments to the Federal Election Commission: In the Matter of Internet Communications Disclaimers and the Definition of “Public Communication”

By Ilya Shapiro and Reilly Stephens. Public Comments. May 24, 2018.

Alabama Democratic Conference v. Attorney General, Alabama

By Ilya Shapiro and Thomas A. Berry. Legal Briefs. January 30, 2017.

Cato Reviews & Journals

26. Campaign Finance: Fixing an Overregulated Marketplace of Ideas

Cato Handbook for Policymakers. Cato Handbook for Policymakers, 8th Edition (2017).

Removing Direct Contribution Limits: Free Speech and Disclosure

Adam G. Byrne. Cato Journal. Fall 2016.

Curbing Campaign Cash: Henry Ford, Truman Newberry, and the Politics of Progressive Reform by Paula Baker

John Samples. Cato Journal. Spring/Summer 2013.


Is Taxpayer Financing of Campaigns Constitutional?

Featuring John Samples. November 17, 2010. Policy Forum.

Campaign Finance after Citizens United: What Now?

Featuring John Samples and Ilya Shapiro. February 2, 2010. Capitol Hill Briefing.

What to Do about Self-Funded Campaigns

Featuring John Samples and Ilya Shapiro. April 21, 2008. Capitol Hill Briefing.