chapter  10
30 Pages

Interest Groups, Elections, and Campaign Finance

ByThomas T. Holyoke

This chapter focuses on the interest groups in elections, what they do, what they give, and what they hope to get in return. The truth is that while many interest groups are deeply involved in financing campaigns, a significant number of them stay away from elections. Since the 1970s the political landscape has become crowded with further efforts to reform the campaign finance system; the more extreme efforts, such as banning Political Action Committees (PACs) entirely, fizzled and died. Interest group PACs do not buy votes in Congress, and it is not clear that any contribution does. Ironically, though, even as they rake in PAC money, candidates on all sides rail against alleged PAC and interest group corruption. After decades of corruption, bribes, and everything the public tends to associate with the lobbying of Congress, at the beginning of the twentieth century this same body passed legislation forbidding corporations from contributing to political campaigns for national office.