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Since the 1970s, the US Supreme Court has frustrated efforts at campaign finance reform by holding that nearly all limits on political spending violate the first amendment?s protection of free speech, with only one exception: to prevent ?corruption of the appearance of corruption.? Using state-level data from 1990-2012 on contribution limits, corruption arrests, and media mentions of corruption, this paper employs a linear panel regression and a difference-in-differences analysis to test whether campaign contribution limits are associated with lower levels of corruption arrests or media mentions of corruption. These methods find no relationship between the presence or level of campaign finance laws and quid pro quo corruption. As current challenges to contribution limits wind their way through federal courts, the answer to this question will inform the Supreme Court?s decision to uphold or strike down remaining limits on political campaign contributions.


A working study of the link (?) between campaign finance and political corruption in the U.S. States.



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