The financing of election campaigns for the election of the President of the United States of America is regulated by the following legislative acts:
Federal Election Campaign Act – FECA, “Costs of Presidential Primaries”, Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) and a number of others. In addition, court decisions are important for regulating campaign finance.
The main sources of campaign finance are:
- donations from private individuals;
- contributions from political parties and committees;
- own funds of the candidate and his family members;
- funds allocated by the state.
The peculiarity of state funding of candidates’ campaigns is the need for their voluntary consent to limit the size of donations and the maximum amount of spending in exchange for funding from the US federal budget. Such funding is possible both at the stage of the party nomination of candidates and during the election campaign. The amount of funding depends on the results of the party that nominated one candidate or another in the last presidential election.
Not all candidates can rely on government funding. The selection criteria are the number of funds raised (indirectly indicating the level of the candidate’s popularity) or the result of the party’s candidate in the previous presidential election.
State support is very significant. For example, for each of the candidates for the presidency of the United States in 2008, nominated by the Republican and Democratic parties, the amount of state funding was 84.1 million US dollars. At the same time, the candidate of the US Democratic Party, Barack Obama, chose to abandon state funding in order to freely spend all the collected funds.
Regulation of the campaign finance system implies limiting the maximum amount of campaign donations established for various categories of donors. Thus, there are a number of restrictions on the size of donations according to the data of the Federal Election Commission of the USA, which controls the financing of federal election campaigns.
In some cases, the maximum amount of donations is not fixed but it is indexed to account for inflation. For example, the maximum amount of donations for individuals was established in 2002 by the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act at $2,000, in 2008, it was already $2,300, and in 2012 – $2,500.
Donations from non-US citizens, including those long-term residents of the United States, government officials, and public administration representatives are prohibited. Also, trade unions, corporations and banks cannot contribute to the support of candidates. It is forbidden to make contributions on behalf of another person or organization. The maximum amount of cash contributions is $100.