The $500 Million Question: Are the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations Really State PACs Under Buckley’s Major Purpose Test?

Ciara Torres-Spelliscy, The $500 Million Question: Are the Democratic and Republican Governors Associations Really State PACs Under Buckley‘s Major Purpose Test?, 15 NYU J. Legis. & Pub. Pol’y 485 (2012).

Abstract:  This Article offers a case study of Democratic Governors Association (DGA) and the Republican Governors Association, two central financial actors in recent state elections. Between 2002 and 2010, the period that this Article will cover, the Governors Associations participated in gubernatorial elections in forty-eight of fifty states and spent nearly half a billion dollars, yet they have largely escaped regulation by state elections officials in the very states where they lavish money electing governors. But the simple recipe for how the Governors Associations evade campaign finance regulations is not unique to these two groups. Potentially any multistate group may evade these state anti-­corruption laws in the same way.

The Governors Associations are everywhere, but in a real sense, they are regulated almost nowhere. What little regulation falls on them is not imposed by the fifty states, but rather by the IRS, which requires the Governors Associations to report their income and spending. This IRS reporting reveals that much of the money filling the coffers of the Governors Associations is actually corporate. A majority of the corporate contributions (over 65%) comes from publicly traded corporations, which raises corporate governance issues as well as democratic concerns.

To download a full version of the articleclick here.

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