1979 FECA Amendments Package of amendments to the election campaign act allows the use of
donations to political parties rather than candidates. First time Congress
1980 General Election Spending General election spending totals $192.1 million.
1985 FEC v. National Conservative 470 US 480 NCPAC extended Buckley's ruling that independent
expenditures could not be limited.
1986 Bills Killed The US Senate votes twice in favor of strict controls for campaign
fundraising but bipartisan maneuvers do not allow the bills to come up
for a vote.
1986 General Election Spending General election Spending reaches $400.9 million.
1988 General Election Spending General Election Spending reaches $408.3 million.
1988 Legislative and Legal Setbacks A proposal for limiting overall Campaign spending by candidates is
shelved after a Republican Filibuster. A constitutional amendment to
override the Supreme Court decision fails to get off the ground.
1990 Austin v. Michigan State 494 US 652. Austin affirmed the constitutionality of a ban on campaign
Chamber of Commerce spending by business corporations or other corporations other than
1990 General Election Spending General Election Spending reaches $403.7 million.
1990 More legislative Failure The House and Senate approve voluntary spending limits and
restrictions on political action committees. Conferees fail to resolve
differences and bill never sent to President Bush.
1992 Bush Vetoes Campaign President Bush vetoed a bill providing partial public financing for
Limits Bill congressional candidates who abide by voluntary fund-raising ceilings
and baring soft money contributions to Presidential candidates. Senate
fails to override the veto.
1992 Campaign Contributions 4 percent of the voting population gave contributions to local, state, and
federal candidates. 80 percent of all congressional campaign money
donated by PACs and individuals giving $200 or more.
1992 General Election Spending General Election Spending reaches $528.6 million.
1994 General Election Spending General Election Spending reaches $616.2 million
1994 More Bills Blocked Republicans again block a bill setting spending limits and authorizing
partial public financing of congressional elections.
1996 General Election Spending General Election Spending reaches $650.8 million.
1996 More Bills Fail Bipartisan legislation for voluntary spending limits with rewards for
those who comply and baring soft money is killed by a Republican
1997 Bill Fails McCain- Feingold bipartisan bill to close soft money and TV advertising
expenditures runs afoul of a Republican filibuster. Senate sets March
1998 deadline for another vote on the bill.
1999 Campaign Integrity Act Asa Hutchinson (R - Arkansas) Bill to ban soft money and raise hard
HR:1867 money limits.
1999 Campaign Reform and Election Sponsored by Rep. Bill Thomas (R - CA) includes a ban on foreign
Integrity Act money and reforms the FEC.
1999 Citizen Legislature & Political HR 1922 sponsored by Rep. John Doolittle (R - CA) to repeal all
Freedom Act federal election contribution limits and expedite and expand disclosure.
1999 HR: 417 Campaign Reform ActShays-Meehan Bill, sponsored by Christopher Shays (R - CT) and
Martin Meehan (D - MA) to ban soft money and limit types of
2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act Sponsored by Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ).
Revised some of the legal limits of expenditure set in 1974, and prohibited
unregulated contributions (called "soft money") to national political parties.
Also defined political ads as "electioneering communications" prohibiting any
such ad paid for by a corporation or paid for by an unincorporated entity using
any corporate or union funds
2003 Supreme Court Upholds BCRA A divided Supreme Court upholds the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, which
had been challenged by both parties. The decision preserved the soft money ban and restrictions on political ads, which were the most significant parts of the law.
2006 U.S. Supreme Court Decision Certain advertisements might be constitutionally entitled to an exception from the
Right to Life v. FEC electioneering communications' provisions of McCain-Feingold. The Court
established a broad exemption for any ad that could have a reasonable
interpretation as an ad about legislative issues.
2006 Randall v. Sorrell The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that Vermont's law, the strictest in the nation which placed a cap on financial donations made to politicians, unconstitutionally hindered the citizens' First Amendment right to free speech. A key issue in the case was the 1976 case Buckley v. Valeo, which many justices felt
needed to be revisited
2007 BCRA Loosens The Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, ruled that advocacy groups financed by
unions or corporate money could not be barred from running ads in the month
before a primary and the two months preceding a general election. The court gave greater latitude to what an issue ad could say
2012 Citizens United v. FEC The ruling allows corporations and unions to advocate for or against candidates at
any time. Two months later, in Speechnow.org v. FEC, an appeals court strikes
down limits on contributions to independent-expenditure shops. The super-PAC is