The End of an Era: Introduction and Overview
This chapter discusses the campaign finance activities are some of the developments that mobilized many reform groups, editorial boards, and elected officials to call more vigorously for campaign finance reform legislation. Interest groups and Political Action Committees (PACs) spent record amounts on federal campaigns during the 199596 election cycle. Interest groups also spent millions of dollars on issue advocacy communications. Interest-group campaign finance activities in 1996 helped usher in a new era in the financing of federal campaigns, a post reform era that rendered the campaign finance reforms of the 1970s virtually meaningless. The indirect campaigning that has come to define contemporary elections includes the increased use of independent expenditures for or against candidates by interest groups and parties, the big jump in interest-group soft money contributions to political parties, and the exponential growth of issue advocacy campaigns by both interest groups and parties.