Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Political Science

First Advisor

Michael Binford - Chair

Second Advisor

Richard Engstrom

Third Advisor

Daniel Franklin


In a time when record numbers of dollars are being spent on campaigns the unregulated dollars are flowing faster than ever. Hundreds of millions of dollars in independent expenditures are being used for “issue advocacy”, print and broadcast advertising, which does not expressly endorse or oppose a candidate for office. The one-time campaign finance ceiling has become the campaign finance basement. Individuals are able to give unlimited dollars to 527 organizations, which function outside of all campaign finance regulation and provide a new path for the flow of political dollars. Since the passage of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act, commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act, federally regulated lobbyists and PACS are being edged out of the political dollar due to contribution limits. It is in 1996 that we witness the birth of 527 organizations and the flourishing growth of soft money spending in the campaign process.